Focus Firm Project Teams to Present to iCyt Visionary BioscienceApril 19, 2006
By Kristin Todd
Two Focus Firm project teams are working with iCyt Visionary Bioscience Inc., a company who specializes in innovative technology and science solutions. The students will examine intellectual property issues and the impact of bio-ethics on business. They will present ideas to iCyt representatives at the beginning of May at Baylor University.
Dr. Greg Leman, the director of University Entrepreneurial Initiatives and the Curtis Hankamer Chair in Entrepreneurship at Baylor, said the project started from a discussion with Tim Hoerr, CEO of iCyt.
"The project came about because Tim and I have known each other for almost 20 years, have collaborated on some business consulting, and maintained a personal relationship," Leman said. "After telling him about the things we are doing with Technology Entrepreneurship and learning about his progress with new technology, we realized it made sense to assist him with a feasibility study."
Shama Blaney, a lockstep two student, is a member of the team focusing on intellectual property and potential markets for iCyt technologies. Blaney said the team looked at aspects of commercializing the emerging technology iCyt had to offer.
"We also looked at alternatives for using the technology in the forms of nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals and rapid prototyping," she said.
While the team worked on the project apart from the company, they did get a glimpse of iCyt's headquarters.
"We got to fly to Illinois to make a company visit," Blaney said. "It was interesting to see the technology they had there, and see how our research would apply."
Blaney, originally from Denver, Colorado, said she would like to see more application from the Focus Firm teams' research.
"Phase one was learning about the technology and its functions," she said. "We are now working on phase two, which is a marketing analysis. I would like to be able to fully implement our work, but there are other factors to consider."
Blaney, who received a degree in Urban Studies from Stanford, said the technicalities of the project have exposed her to different elements of the operational business world.
"Focus Firm has been very beneficial to me coming from a liberal arts background," Blaney said. "I think it will help me when I enter the corporate world."
Dr. Leman said the team mostly worked independently, but he has been available for any advice.
"I have been impressed with the team's capacity to absorb the key technical details to assess the applicability and value this invention could deliver to a wide range of applications, and have received very positive feedback from the iCyt management team," he said.
Rhett Herron, a lockstep three student, is a member of the team researching bio-ethical issues for the company. Herron said the research analyzed ethical issues surrounding controversial topics such as in-vitro fertilization and embryonic stem cell research.
"The primary issues in this debate are 'When does life begin?' and 'What rights should be afforded to embryos?'" he said. "We then broke down the project into four viewpoints: religious, medical, legal and political."
Herron said the team will discuss historical perspectives of each viewpoint and provide insight for the future concerning the issues. The team will remain unbiased in the presentation.
The project was jumpstarted by emerging technology developed by iCyt.
"While not initially developed for applications in stem-cell research and in-vitro fertilization, the company has come to view these as potential uses," Herron said. "Before moving into the markets, they wanted to study the ethical dilemmas involved with this type of usage."
Herron's team will not be recommending any specific direction for iCyt to proceed. He also said the decision for use of the technology will be a "personal and serious decision made within iCyt."
Herron, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in strategic management, said the project was more than a typical classroom assignment.
"Due to the ambiguous nature of the task, we were forced to make solid decisions to determine what issues were critical and which were outside the scope," he said.