MICL Seminar

“Commercializing University Innovation – a non-linear journey”

Nathan Roberts
1200 EECS BuildingMap

Abstract:  Entrepreneurship is a dynamic career path. It is romanticized in the media and company founders often wind up becoming rockstars in technology circles. It provides an engaging and intellectually stimulating work environment, yet is also not for the faint of heart. It can be stressful, grueling, and the path forward is uncertain. While entrepreneurship is not for everyone, I will use this talk to convey my viewpoint that it is worth the effort and, even more pointedly, that there are few things more important from a technology perspective than commercializing innovation developed within great universities like the University of Michigan. I will begin the talk with an overview of technology-based startup life and discuss the non-monotonic path startups take from conception through growth stages. I will also discuss the role startups play in our society today and motivate why I think they are more important than ever. I will also provide a discussion on services and resources offered at the University of Michigan that can help founders early on in their journey. And through it all I’ll sprinkle in anecdotes from my own experience as a university researcher and also a founding engineer from Everactive, a 10-year old ‘startup’ that made the journey from university innovation to productive commercial business.

Bio:  Nathan Roberts obtained his MS and PhD from the University of Michigan in 2014, studying ultra low power wireless integrated circuits with his advisor, David Wentzloff. They published the first sub-1uW wakeup receiver leading to an entire research field of nanoWatt wakeup receivers including a multi-M dollar DARPA program (N-ZERO). Prior to his time at the University of Michigan, Nathan received his BS from the University of San Diego and worked for Lattice Semiconductor in Hillsboro Oregon from 2006 to 2009. After receiving his PhD Nathan joined Everactive (formerly known as PsiKick) where he commercialized his wake-up receiver and led the production effort of Everactive’s first silicon product, PK1001. He later became the VP of Engineering leading Everactive’s development effort across the entire vertical stack, from silicon design through cloud computing and data analytics. Currently Nathan is consulting with young startups working to commercialize technology specifically focused in the IoT space.

Come join us and enjoy an ice cream treat with all of your favorite toppings.