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IURTC bolsters ties with China, explores future collaboration



INDIANAPOLIS — Two delegates from the Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. recently visited the Chinese cities of Beijing and Xi’an to explore future partnerships in technology transfer and introducing startup companies to the Chinese market.

The five-day visit for Marie Kerbeshian and Jeremy Schieler began Nov. 3 in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi province in the center of China’s Guanzhong Plain. Home to nearly 8.5 million people, Xi’an is one of China’s oldest cities and served as a starting point of the Silk Road, a network of ancient trade routes linking China with the West.

“Despite its much larger size, Xi’an is a lot like Indianapolis,” said Kerbeshian, IURTC’s vice president of technology commercialization. “As in the U.S., local governments in Xi’an and throughout the province are looking to recruit people to the area to boost economic development.”

At the invitation of the Shaanxi Administration of Foreign Affairs, Kerbeshian and Schieler participated in more than 12 hours of lectures and workshops during the 2014 China-U.S. University Technology Transfer and Partnering Forum in Xi’an. The forum, Nov. 3 to 5, was the first of its kind in China.

One session covered how to use assets within the province’s universities to bring their research innovations to the public, Kerbeshian said. Schieler, who is director of technology commercialization for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, also briefed conference attendees on three medical technologies being developed by IU.

One of their hosts in Xi’an was Xin Bu, a former researcher at Eli Lilly and Co. and current president of Xi’an Sailest Biomedical Investment Consulting Co., who has seen what IURTC is doing in terms of technology transfer, Kerbeshian said. He also has ties to Xi’an, having earned his M.S. and M.D. degrees from the Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Medicine.

“Dr. Bu has been working to initiate technology transfer programs in China and he recommended that the local Chinese government invite us to participate in a training workshop in 2013 as well as the forum in 2014,” Kerbeshian said. “He wants to promote technology transfer partnerships between U.S. universities and China hopes to accelerate technology innovation and economic growth through technology transfer. These goals align with IURTC’s as well.”

While in Xi’an, Kerbeshian and Schieler also met with Yuecheng Yang, the deputy director general of high-tech industry development centers for China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, and Yifei Wu, the vice president of the Yangtze River Pharmaceutical Group, as well as other local government officers and investors.

After the conference, Kerbeshian and Schieler spent Nov. 6 and 7 in Beijing, where they toured IU’s international gateway office in China.

Dedicated by IU President Michael A. McRobbie in May, it is the university’s second such office, joining a similar gateway near New Delhi, India, that opened in February 2013.

“This is a major initiative for IU,” Kerbeshian said. “Basically these are places where people can connect with everything IU has going on in that country. It can involve faculty research. IU students can use these centers for research and conferences, and Chinese students can learn more about the U.S.”

With the help of the IU China Office, Kerbeshian and Schieler also met representatives of the China Technology Exchange, a technology transaction agency jointly established by Beijing’s municipal government, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and its State Intellectual Property Office.

“As a result, CTEX and IURTC are exploring further partnerships toward introducing startup companies into the Chinese market,” Kerbeshian said. “We are also interested in two-party training and education with the tech community in China.”

IURTC is a not-for-profit agency that helps IU faculty and researchers realize the commercial potential of their discoveries. Since 1997, IURTC’s university clients have accounted for more than 2,800 inventions, nearly 1,900 patent applications and 77 startup companies. IURTC is part of the Innovate Indiana initiative, which engages strategic partners to leverage and advance IU’s intellectual resources and expertise, enhance Indiana’s economic growth and contribute to the overall quality of life for Hoosiers.