By Liz Warren-Pederson and Eric Van Meter
Sherry Hoskinson joined the University of Arizona’s Tech Launch Arizona in November as director of commercialization networks and operations. In accepting the position, Hoskinson left her role as director of the University’s top-ranked McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the Eller College of Management, where she served for 15 years.
Hoskinson was named director of the McGuire Center in 2005 and oversaw a period of growth that included community outreach and engagement, curricular enhancement, and expansion of entrepreneurship education at Eller and the UA.
Over the last several years, the McGuire team implemented sweeping programs focused on making entrepreneurship education accessible to all. In addition to a now-required class in entrepreneurship for business students, there are now entrepreneurship experiences available to all UA students. Those experiences include the formal year-long McGuire Entrepreneurship Program, entrepreneurship options for non-business undergraduates, and the doctoral minor, which allows Ph.D. students from a variety of disciplines to fit technology commercialization experience into their graduate education. During Hoskinson’s tenure, the program rose in national rankings and prominence, leading USA Today to dub it the “crown jewel” of the UA.
Hoskinson played a key role in establishing Tech Launch Arizona, created by UA as an overarching structure to help more effectively develop university inventions and create intellectual property for commercial applications. In her new role, Hoskinson will cultivate resources and relationships to refine UA innovations and better align them with and prepare them for market opportunities.
Executive director David N. Allen, who started at the UA in September, said he is delighted to welcome Hoskinson into the growing Tech Launch Arizona leadership team. “Sherry has an amazing background and track record,” Allen said. “Everything that she does is high-quality, and nowhere is that more evident than in her leadership at the McGuire Center.”
Her long history with the McGuire Center and the Eller College deepens a notable strength of Tech Launch Arizona, according to its board chair and dean of the Eller College, Len Jessup.
“One of the most unique qualities of Tech Launch Arizona is that it has the Eller College and our McGuire Center to work with hand-in-hand,” Jessup said. “That’s something that few other universities around the country have to help with their commercialization efforts.”
Jessup noted that the McGuire Center not only consistently leads national rankings of entrepreneurship education but also has launched hundreds of new companies and been a central player in regional and statewide economic development.
Bridging the Gap between Lab and Market
Most people are familiar with the first and last stages of commercializing innovation: the years of painstaking work leading to initial discovery and the business phase of technology in action or on the shelf.
In between, however, are critical stages of refining and validating invention, protecting underlying intellectual property (IP), and making it accessible for uses beyond the lab by licensing IP to a start-up or operating company. Supporting the refinement and validation phases is the focus of Hoskinson’s new role. “The researchers making these important breakthroughs are very focused on discovery, as they should be,” she explained. Given the demands of their research, it isn’t reasonable to also expect them to figure out how or if their work aligns with market opportunities and develop, on their own, prototypes of marketable uses of their technologies.
“That’s where we can help,” Hoskinson said. “My job is to develop deep resources for researchers who are expanding the frontiers of their fields and support them with expertise, access to resources such as capital for prototyping or development-oriented research, and clear roadmaps to move their discoveries into real-world applications.”
The Eller College thanks Sherry for her 15 years of excellent service to the College and beyond!