November 05, 2013

Schools' alliance to boost startups

By: Larry Rulison

Source: Times Union


Albany Law School and the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering have developed joint programs and courses designed to help local high-tech startups get off the ground faster.

Starting in January, the first jointly developed courses will be offered that focus on the basics of high-tech entrepreneurship from both a scientific and legal perspective.

The law school will also offer a free legal clinic to early-stage startup companies and nonprofits.

Pradeep Haldar, who leads entrepreneurship innovation and clean energy programs at the NanoCollege, said the two schools have been developing an informal relationship for years now.

But if the high-tech economy is going to really flourish, there needs to be lawyers who understand the high-tech space, and scientists and engineers need to understand the importance of protecting their inventions if they ever want to commercialize them.

"We think this is a great opportunity for the region," said Haldar, who also added the timing is perfect because the state's Start-Up NY tax-free program begins in January.

Penelope Andrews, Albany Law School's dean and president, said the school has a strong intellectual property and patent law curriculum. But many of those students are thirsting for more firsthand experience with current science and engineering breakthroughs. Students from the two schools will learn side by side at both campuses. The number and types of courses will expand over the next five years, with a basic one-credit course to start with.

Andrews says she couldn't think of a better place or time to launch the programs, considering all that is emerging locally from the NanoCollege and the high-tech scene.

"It's the perfect time for us as lawyers," she said.

Students from the two schools will work on what's called a "Tech Transfer Practicum," in which students from both schools will try to take ideas generated at the NanoCollege to market, and law school students will also be provided job training at the NanoCollege's Office of Technology Innovation and Commercialization, which is staffed by lawyers.