While working as the Program Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Jon Soderstrom received a phone call which would end up altering his career trajectory in a way he couldn’t have imagined. Although Jon’s initial response to the offer to work at Yale was no, after having a meeting with the man who was to become his future boss, he realized that Yale was exactly where he needed to be. Over 25 years, and more than 25 new ventures later, the rest is history.
In today’s episode, Jon and I discuss the important role being fulfilled by Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research (which, until recently, he was the Managing Director of); it is similar to other technology transfer offices but has its own unique edge. When Jon began working in New Haven, the sentiment regarding the field technology transfer in the area was pessimistic, but Jon was committed to changing that, and change it he did. We also delve into Jon’s opinion on the dangers of price control, the importance of patent rights, the brilliance of the Bayh-Dole Act, why diversity is key to success, and his thoughts about the future of technology transfer at Yale.
Jon’s career has brought meaning to his life, and in turn, he has brought meaning, hope, and success to the lives of many others. The field of technology transfer has a lot to thank him for!
In This Episode:
- [00:54] A breakdown of the professional background of today’s guest, Jon Soderstrom.
- [04:00] Where Jon’s interest in technology transfer originated.
- [05:45] How Jon ended up as the program director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he remained for 12 years.
- [08:04] Jon’s initial response when he was recruited for a position at Yale.
- [10:25] The outcome of the first conversation that Jon had with the man who ended up being his boss.
- [12:35] How the first in person meeting Jon and his soon-to-be-boss went.
- [14:56] What made Jon change his mind about the position at Yale that he had been offered.
- [17:16] Jon explains how Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) is similar to other technology transfer offices and how it is different.
- [18:40] One of the metrics of merit for academics which impacts their professional standing in the community.
- [20:18] The sentiment around technology transfer at the time when Jon started working at Yale, and his commitment to change that.
- [22:46] Partnerships that were instrumental to the success of the OCR.
- [23:40] The fundraising campaign that the OCR is currently in the midst of.
- [24:19] Why Jon has stepped down as Managing Director of the OCR, and what his hopes are for its future.
- [26:16] Misconceptions about who is responsible for funding innovations.
- [29:04] Jon shares his opinion on the harm caused by price controls.
- [32:34] Why anything that weakens patent rights is a huge mistake.
- [33:29] What COVID-19 has taught us about the importance of manufacturing.
- [35:14] Learnings from looking at the technology transfer environment pre and post the introduction of the Bayh-Dole Act.
- [38:10] Factors academic institutions need to take into consideration when entering into relationships with corporate partners.
- [40:48] Jon’s wealth of experience in the field of patent litigation.
- [43:54] The importance of the Bayh-Dole Coalition, which Jon is a member of, and his appreciation for Joe Allen.
- [46:21] Gender equality as a cornerstone of the technology transfer profession.
- [47:17] Why increasing diversity should be a key goal of the technology transfer field.
- [49:08] Meaning that Jon’s career has brought to his life, and the meaning he has been able to bring to others’ lives as a result.