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Agbar Foundation / News / Leon Sandler: "Innovative ideas must pass from universities and research centres to the market”

17 October 2014

Leon Sandler: "Innovative ideas must pass from universities and research centres to the market”

Leon Sandler: "Innovative ideas must pass from universities and research centres to the market”

In the talk, entitled "Culture of innovation and entrepreneurship", the Executive Director of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) provided the keys required to market products starting from inventions developed in universities and research centres: "Our centre’s mission is to contribute to the creation of products with a strong economic and social impact through technological innovation. For this, it is necessary for ideas to pass from the laboratory to the market". At this point, Sandler clarified that "companies rather than universities manufacture products. Therefore, university research should be supplemented with significant economic investment which allows something innovative to be converted into a useful product for the market".

For the Executive Director of the Deshpande, any innovation process must follow three phases: "The first, aimed at selecting the projects with commercial potential; the second, to guide them in order to reduce market risks; and, finally, to connect the research centres and companies in order to introduce these inventions onto the market ".

Over its 12 years of existence, the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation of the MIT has received some 500 proposals, of which 120 have been converted into projects. These have given rise to 28 spinouts which, with a capital of $500m, develop and offer innovative products and services with long-term potential to transform key markets such as energy, lighting, medical research and care, or the ICT.

As for entrepreneurship, Leon Sandler considers that "it is not innate, but rather its skills and attitudes are learnt, and this should be done in a team". “Entrepreneurs have limited resources which they must know how to use with creativity, clarity, and always as a team", he indicated.

Angel Simón, Agbar’s Executive Chairman, presented the event highlighting the group’s commitment to innovation: "We invest over €15m a year in innovation and we have 225 professionals devoted to research. They are our strength", and he praised the public-private model of the technology centre run by Sandler, "which very successfully connects universities and companies". Public officials, and representatives of universities, research centres and benchmark companies from the technology and ICT sector, attended a talk which it was possible to follow live by streaming and Twitter.

New editions of the Water Circle are planned for this year. The next one will be on Wednesday 22 October at 12.30 hours in the Agbar Tower with the presence of Guillem López Casasnovas, Professor of Economics at the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and a member of the Governing Council of the Bank of Spain. You can find full information about the Water Circle’s activities on the website .

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