A transition

This summer, I will be changing my status with the Technology Partnership Practice at Battelle Memorial Institute, where I have been a part-time employee for more than a dozen years. I have informed Battelle that I will resign that status on August 21st and focus instead on my independent consulting. I hope to be able still to do one or two larger projects for TPP each year, but as an independent contractor. Changing status from employee to affiliated consultant will allow me to focus more intently on my clients, including but not limited to the Business Incubator Association of New York State (other representative clients from recent years here). And it will become easier for me to manage and juggle my various assignments, without the very specific conflict-of-interest concerns that come with being an employee of a large and complex organization.

TPP is one of a handful of national consulting groups that advise communities, universities, foundations, and business partnerships on strategies for technology-based economic development. Its leadership has an extraordinary pedigree. The practice was founded in the early 1990s by Chris Coburn, who had been science advisor to Governor Celeste of Ohio and creator of the state’s Thomas Edison Program (which can still be found at the core of the technology offerings of the Ohio Department of Development). When Chris moved from state government to Battelle, he built on the group that had for many years been doing the national R&D funding forecast (latest version here) to create what became TPP. Chris is now executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the Clinic’s tech-transfer, commercialization, and incubation arm.

He was succeeded at TPP by Walt Plosila, who as deputy commerce secretary for Governor Thornburgh of Pennsylvania in the 1980s became known nationwide as the founder of the Ben Franklin Partnership Program, also still extant. Walt went on to found the (Montgomery County) Maryland High Technology Council (now Tech Council MD), and served briefly in North Carolina before succeeding Chris. Under Walt, the TPP expanded rapidly, and we did some of our most interesting and challenging work for a series of philanthropic foundations (and their regional business and civic partners) that had become interested in improving the overall economic health of the communities in which they operate.

Walt was succeeded in turn by Mitch Horowitz, who had written the first “commercial biotechnology strategy” for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, and also brought past experience with the Corporation for Enterprise Development, the City of New York, and Hammer, Siler, George Associates, then a research park consultancy.

All three of these practice heads showed exceptional abilities to digest, synthesize, and present enormous amounts of information in terms easily understood by clients interested in clear, practical consequences. That’s something I appreciated as a former state-level practitioner myself: during that same fertile period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was deputy director at the New Jersey Science and Technology Commission, first hired by Governor Kean and serving also under Governors Florio and Whitman.

Above all, all three TPP practice heads have been very fine bosses. They built a fine, collegial group of skilled analysts and practitioners, and it has been a privilege to work with them all. I want to particularly acknowledge also Marianne Clarke and Marty Grueber, with whom I have worked most closely, but every single member of the TPP team is excellent. Stay tuned for more news
and commentary from the world of tbed.


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