John Chavez is always on the hunt for the next big idea. Literally. The president of the New Mexico Angels and tax secretary to former governor Gary Johnson spends hours each month trolling the research labs of the University of New Mexico, visiting with scientists and their graduate assistants. John knows universities are fertile ground for raw technology with potentially lucrative commercial applications.
“The goal is to find promising technology before it goes public. The best way to do that is through relationships with university researchers and the [University of New Mexico] tech transfer office,” says John. Over the last few years, he’s uncovered technologies that New Mexico Angels was able to use as the foundation of three start-ups: Lotus Leaf Coatings, Synofolia and Tryosine Pharma.
John isn't the only entrepreneur or investor vetting university research. Venture capitalists routinely walk the labs of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. With those two universities hauling in a combined $142.9 million in licensing income in 2011, the VCs aren't walking away empty handed.
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