In collaboration with TandemLaunch – SciFest is a groundbreaking new one-day event revealing the synergy between research, technology innovation in academia and startups. It’s a full day conversation on the role of university research, Intellectual Property, technology transfer and the critical place of entrepreneurs in the equation. It brings together citizens, professors, students, technologists, founders, VCs and innovative thinkers from around the world.

Who’s it for: Professors and students in Engineering, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Computer Sciences. Technology transfer professionals and entrepreneurs of university spinouts.

Speakers (so far!)

  • Tara Akhavan

    Ph.D. – Co-founder & CTO,


    Thad Starner


    Georgia Tech

  • Sophie Forest

    Managing Partner,


    Éléonore Jarry-Ferron

    Co-founder and Managing Partner,

    Front Row Ventures

  • David Dorsey

    Senior Associate,

    Osage University Partners

    Josette-Renée Landry

    Founder & CEO,

    Streamline Genomics

  • Dr. David R. Smith

    Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering,

    James B. Duke

    Mike Cegelski

    Managing Partner,

    Panache Ventures

  • Mike Lee

    Président – R&D,

    Partners & Fundica

    Myra Tawfik

    Professor of Law and EPICentre Professor of IP Commercialization and Strategy,

    University of Windsor

  • Daniel Cohen

    Co-Founder and CEO,

    InVivo AI

Buy your tickets for SciFest + Startupfest!

What you’ll learn


Time Session Title Description
10:00 AM - 10:10 AM MC and sponsor welcome
10:10 AM - 10:50 AM From idea to execution: How does your idea become your company What is the path of an invention from lab bench to store shelves? Learn how multiple stakeholders and often conflicting interests must reconcile themselves for a university invention to leave the ivory tower.
10:50 AM - 11:20 AM Metamaterials: The Unconventional Path of Unconventional Science to Unconventional Technology In this talk, David Smith will describe the journey from scientific discovery to commercialization. The partnership between Duke University and Intellectual Ventures, though unconventional, proved to be remarkably fruitful and could provide a template for the transition of early-stage ideas that may eventually serve as platform technologies.
11:20 AM - 11:40 AM My thesis vs. my startup: Balancing grad school and entrepreneurship Lessons learned trying to launch a startup while still in school.
11:40 AM - 12:00 PM A Journey from a PhD student to an Entrepreneur - Lessons Learned Tara would love to share her story; her failures and lessons learned during her education and career. She has lived in three continents and three countries, worked for two companies, finished BSc in Computer Engineering, MSc in Artificial Intelligence and PhD in Computer Vision, all before she changed gears to entrepreneurship. The path from being a technical PhD student to establishing a company is not necessarily the usual path. Although, she thinks it is one of the most efficient ways to entrepreneurship, of course if one is willing to accept the challenges and surround ourselves with the right people.
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM LUNCH It’s time to check out the amazing variety of food trucks on site!
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM Tech transfer and IP One of your most valuable assets as a university-based venture is your intellectual property, but how do you navigate the complex and often nebulous subject? Learn how to turn your intellectual property into a long-term strategy that secures the success of your startup.
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM Who are the founders of university startups? Osage University Partners is a venture capital firm that invests in university startups. Over the past 9 years they have spoken with about 5000 teams attempting to start a business based on research. In this talk, David will use some of their own data to discuss the different roles that the scientific founder play in the commercialization effort. He will also talk about what they, as investors, look for in a CEO when they are deciding to fund a university startup, using a fictional example for discussion.
2:00 PM - 2:20 PM Success stories - how they did it It's a tough journey but the rewards are unparalelled and your impact will be felt across entire industries. Hear about what it looks like at the finish line and what some of the most prolific founders of spinout ventures are doing now that they've made it across the 'valley of death'.
2:20 PM - 3:20 PM Fundraising for your tech transfer startup - Interactive session with experts Money is your venture's fuel and there have never been so many options for a fledgling venture to secure the finances it needs. However, how to navigate these various options, when to engage them and how to guarantee your success in this constantly evolving landscape is not a trivial exercise. Find out how to fund your next prototype, your next engineer and your next manufacturing run with this panel of experts representing your options for keeping your venture growing.
3:20 PM - 3:50 PM BREAK Now that you’re inspired, it’s your chance to connect with the community !
3:50 PM - 4:30 PM What does industry want? lightning talks from international leaders (15 min each) Most startups fail due to poor product/market fit. This is no less true when spinning out a university technology. How do you figure out what your target market needs? How do you engage decision makers? And at what stage? This panel of strategic investors will give you real insight into the collective minds of some of the biggest industry players in the world.
4:30 PM - 4:50 PM Closing Keynote Coming soon!
4:50 PM - 5:00 PM Closing Remarks Summary of day and call to action
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