Graziadio Students Learn How to Uncover New Commercialization Opportunities for Existing IP

July 21, 2011  | 2 min read

The Graziadio School of Business and Management developed a measurable process this year for uncovering commercialization opportunities for existing intellectual property. Named the 15X Process by its creator Larry Cox, associate professor of entrepreneurship and director of the school’s entrepreneurship program, the process was designed to develop 15 times as many new revenue streams from a single existing patent.

“The process is like a prism,” explains Cox. “Instead of narrowly focusing on one technology to meet one need, we want to scatter multiple opportunities across a field of inquiry in order to discover new applications. This process is not about developing a business plan. Rather it is about solving problems.”

15X’s first proving ground united research scientists from University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with Pepperdine MBAs in an intense two-month trial run. Beginning in February, the MBAs and scientists—matched as teams by John Shearer, Pepperdine’s entrepreneur-in-residence—used the 15X Process to collaborate and delve into existing intellectual property designed for a specific purpose in order to identify additional market opportunities to generate new revenue. Each team’s goal was to have 15 solid opportunities ready to pitch to an audience of private venture capitalists and entrepreneurs at an inaugural presentation event on April 1.

“The teams presented a total of 135 new ideas, so our success surpassed our original expectations,” says Mike Sims, executive officer, Corporate and External Relations at the Graziadio School. “We proved that collaboration between scientists and MBAs have a far-reaching economic impact. And we helped UCSB uncover many new commercial applications.”

The teams developed innovative solutions by uncovering new ways to apply known technology to meet needs in the marketplace. One team took zinc oxide thin-film processing to another level by matching it with smart-window technology to reduce heat loss. Another applied fast and accurate nanoparticle-analysis technology to the cosmetics industry for safer and more enhanced products. “Team Calamari” discovered a use for organic epoxy based on the chemistry of squid beaks in composite manufacturing resulting in joining without wear.

A fourth team applied a unique software program to measure and correct visual distortion due to macular degeneration to the design of drugstore kiosks for the visually-impaired. The winning team conceived the idea to replace silicon packaging in commercial electronics with titanium cooling technology to safe- guard the tech components from heat damage.

Now that the process is proven, Pepperdine is considering how to develop the initiative further. “We are exploring how to match the 15X Process with commercial entities now, in order to help them identify new revenue streams for their existing intellectual property,” says Sims.

With the assistance of its Senior Fellows in Entrepreneurship, a group of high-quality, senior business executives, the Graziadio School is exploring adding other graduate schools to the 15X Project in the upcoming year. Senior Fellows are also assisting in the creation of an early stage venture fund – the First Wave Accelerator—to leverage 15X—generated opportunities.