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From Research to Start-Up

On March 30, 2012, a panel of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and academics discussed the complex process of commercializing university research. The panelists talked about working with university tech transfer offices, financing, the role of faculty inventors, and technology-driven versus market-driven business models, as well as their own experiences turning research into successful enterprises.

Listen to the discussion:


Ian Ayres 
William K. Townsend Professor of Law
Yale Law School

Ian Ayres is a lawyer and an economist. He is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He is the author of 11 books including Voting With Dollars: A New Paradigm for Campaign Finance. He has served as a columnist for Forbes magazine and as a commentator on public radio’s Marketplace. Ian is also co-founder of stickK), along with Jordan Goldberg `10, CEO of stickK, and Dean Karlan, Professor of Economics at Yale University. stickK is a website which empowers people to better their lifestyle through 'Commitment Contracts', a concept based on two well known principles of behavioral economics: people don't always do what they claim they want to do; incentives get people to do things.


Robert Bettigole '83
Managing Partner 
Elm City Ventures (Moderator)

Rob is the founder and Managing Partner of New Haven-based Elm Street Ventures, a seed and early stage venture capital firm. He serves as Chairman of P2 Science and Samara Innovations, and is Chairman & CEO of Occam Sciences. He is Elm Street’s observer on the BioRelix board, was a board member of ShareGrove and Retail Optimization Inc., and served as an observer on the boards of Affomix Corporation and Metagenomix.

Mr. Bettigole’s venture capital experience was gained at Rothschild Ventures and Investor AB, where his investments included Maxim Integrated Products, Gensia Pharmaceuticals, and Microgenics Corporation. Subsequently, he helped found Surety Technologies, Inc., a spin out from Bellcore, and Alexion (NASDAQ: ALXN), with researchers from the Yale Medical School.

Mr. Bettigole has a BS in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University and an MPPM from the Yale School of Management, where he is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. He is a Licensed Professional Engineer and holds several U.S. and foreign patents. Mr. Bettigole has served on the Operating Board of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute since its founding in 2007 and is an active mentor of several businesses founded by Yale students. Mr. Bettigole has brought his venture capital experience to a number of SOM classes, has served as an advisor for students undertaking for-credit independent study, and meets frequently with students eager to explore career choices as entrepreneurs or early-stage investors.


Dhiraj Malkani '06
RockPort Capital Partners

Dhiraj began his career at Bell Labs/Lucent Technologies in product development and product management. He has also received several U.S. patents for his inventions in MEMS technology. After Lucent, he worked closely with several early stage life sciences and telecommunications startups as a commercialization team member of Boston University’s Photonics Center business incubator. Prior to joining RockPort he was a summer associate in Deutsche Bank’s Technology Investment Banking division. At Rockport, Dhiraj’s areas of interest include solar energy, electrification of transportation, advanced materials, energy storage, energy efficiency & smart grid, enhanced hydrocarbon recovery, waste to energy, water and wind technologies. Dhiraj is also passionate about finding opportunities at the intersection of consumer, mobility and social media that can disrupt these traditional industries. Dhiraj’s investment and board experience spans early, mid and late stage companies. Dhiraj is a graduate of the University of Mumbai with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. He earned an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.


Michael Sesko '10
Encendia Biochar

Michael Sesko serves as Encendia's CEO. His interest for sustainable agriculture began while covering the Natural and Organic food sector on JP Morgan's equity research team. His subsequent work with Noble Environmental Power, a U.S.-based wind developer, and Climate Focus, a carbon finance advisory group based in D.C., furthered his understanding of how to build and finance innovative environmental projects. Michael holds an MBA from Yale's School of Management and a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Department: Research