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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 24, 2014 at 11:28 AM

UW shuffles spinoff program leaders, Rhoads leaving

The head of the commercialization program at the University of Washington is stepping down after six years and being replaced by a prominent engineering professor.

Linden Rhoads, vice provost of the school’s Center for Commercialization, said she’s returning to the private sector, where she may start a Web services venture.

UW photo

UW photo

Taking her place will be Vikram Jandhyala, a professor, former chair of the Electrical Engineering Department and director of the school’s Applied Computational Engineering Lab.

Jandhyala also has an entrepreneurial background. In 2006 he and students started Physware, a cloud-based simulation software company that was sold this year to Mentor Graphics.

Jandhyala will fill a new position, vice provost for innovation, with a broader role supporting entrepreneurial activity at the school. He said that will include more cross-department collaborations, such as involving the business and law schools with engineering programs, and a new Masters program emphasizing entrepreneurship.

The overall goal is to integrate the commercialization program further into the UW’s education mission, Jandhyala said.

Licensing research and producing startups based on UW activity is a priority of UW President Michael Young, who was hired in 2011 in part because of his success in commercialization research at the University of Utah.

The school spun out 17 startups last year and is on track to spin out 18 by July 29, when it holds an annual startup celebration.

UW photo

UW photo

Rhoads will continue to work with the W Fund, a venture fund the school started in 2012; she will  remain on the commercialization center’s staff part-time through 2015.

“I like starting companies and the joy of starting something from nothing is a big part of what has driven me in the past. Frankly it’s a lot of what brought me to the university, the opportunity to create something new,” she said.

Now that the school has a “relatively mature” program, it’s time for someone else to run the program “and bring a new vision,” she said.

Jandhyala will start his new role on July 1. He worked in the electronic-design software industry before joining the UW in 2000. He’s a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Here’s a chart from the commercialization center showing UW patent activity in recent years:

uwpatent activity

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