Temple sets up office at University City Science Center

Universities of all sorts are looking for revenue to pay staff and keep tuition affordable, and Temple is trying to generate more money from scientific entrepreneurial ventures that it helps to launch.

To that end, Temple established an office at the University City Science Center to help fledgling companies gain profitable traction.

"These for-profit companies need space to grow and it doesn't always work in an academic space," said Tony Lowman, a bioengineering professor and university vice provost for research and business development. "Stephen Tang has done a phenomenal job in making that a place to be for companies getting started."

Tang is the Science Center chief executive officer. Lowman serves on the Science Center's scientific advisory board. Lowman joined Temple seven months ago after working at Drexel and launched his own start-up from the Science Center.

The Science Center has IT access, space for meetings and laboratories of several sorts. As important, it creates connections between those mixing potions or wires and venture capitalists and other business entrepreneurs who might invest in a company. Even if the project is not ready for incorporation, Lowman said, ideas can be vetted.

"This is our starting point," Lowman said. "I hope to eventually see a whole wing of Temple start-ups."

Temple will pay the rent for the space at the Science Center and will cover its costs through licensing agreements with companies. Temple has several formulas for sharing costs and royalties with faculty, staff and students who generate ideas that become profitable. And because few things in life are guaranteed, Temple's Science Center projects will have a "graduation date," defined by Temple, by which the company needs to have shown sufficient progress.

Lowman said that a few years ago Temple generated only $200,000 to $300,000 in annual royalty revenue, but greater emphasis has paid off. Temple brought in $1.3 million for the fiscal (and academic) year that ended June 30, 2011, Lowman said, and the school already has $2.7 million in revenue for the current year.

"This is a great example of how regional collaboration can help grow companies and create jobs, while enhancing Greater Philadelphia's reputation as a technology commercialization hub," Tang said in a statement. "We're honored that Temple chose the Science Center to establish its first presence in an incubator, and we're delighted to play a role in the commercialization of technologies coming out of the university."