Gregory Leman, a Baylor University business professor, will be director of the business research collective that will help budding technology companies grow at the school’s new research park.
The Innovative Business Accelerator will be housed at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative, set to open in January at the site of the old General Tire plant in Waco. IBA will help companies develop BRIC research into commercial products.
“The role that we play is really a conduit or linkage between the research that is started there and as it gets productive and develops into a prototype, we’re there to help in the commercialization process to actually bring it to marketplace,” said Terry Maness, dean of Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.
Some services that will be offered include business marketing strategies, patent law research and application, accounting principles and technical aid. Baylor students will be among those providing the services.
IBA follows the format of the Immersion Into International Interdisciplinary Innovation program, called i5, an initiative Leman heads at Baylor that includes a summer internship in China where students consult with existing companies to create business plans and marketing strategies.
The program falls under Baylor’s Technology Entrepreneurship Initiative, of which Leman is the founding director.
“The pace of innovation has to speed up, both because our economies are lagging and because product life cycle is so short,” Leman said. “The pace of science is faster than ever, but turning those things into real products that serve people well and create value, people don’t necessarily know how to speed that up.”
Leman, who has a background as a chemical engineer, came to Baylor in 2005 with nearly 30 years of experience in developing products and brainstorming ways to commercialize them for profit. He’s also been involved in acquiring patents for about a half dozen products or manufacturing processes.
He said the balance between invention and commercial success can be tricky. Researchers often are developing technologies that exceed the current realm of possibility, and it takes careful marketing and production to gain buy-in from consumers, he said.
“Customers don’t know what’s possible that they never saw before, so the scientific gurus have an opportunity to say, ‘Guess what, a phone doesn’t have to be a phone. It can be an iPhone,’ ” Leman said.