UT’s Chief Commercialization Officer Abruptly Resigns

It’s a classic American scenario: dynamic private-sector professional is recruited to a public entity, with high hopes he can slice through red tape and get things humming. After a too-brief stint, he leaves, often frustrated.

At UT, Richard Miller just became the latest official to make that classic play.

Miller had joined the University just over a year ago, in September 2010, as its first chief commercialization officer. A physician, medical scientist, and veteran entrepreneur, he’d come as a hot recruit from Silicon Valley to UT’s Office of Technology Commercialization.

He resigned effective Dec. 31 after being told he could no longer have a personal or financial involvement with companies that might license technology from UT, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

UT’s VP of research, Juan Sanchez, said that while there had been no active conflicts of interest, those seemed to be coming down the pike. Miller, he said,  “was setting up a scenario in which he would be negotiating with himself, and that would have been a conflict of interest, which we would not allow.”

Sanchez added: “It was clear that he would have to divest his interest. The resignation was his call. I would have liked him to remain as chief commercialization officer, but he chose not to.”

At The Alcalde, we wrote a major feature last year about Miller and the OTC, which aims to amp up the money and jobs emerging from the academic hub that is a major research university.

“It’s not just about being excellent at academic tech transfer,” Miller said then. “We have a more important mission. We have to create jobs, companies, businesses, technology, and leadership, and it’s going to have to start coming out of our universities. We have to figure out ways to start doing that. It’s not going to happen by sitting around and waiting for other people to do it.”

A bright spot in what could otherwise be a loss for UT: a constellation of other key players is also in place to continue that work. Here’s hoping they can keep it going.

Photo courtesy UT Public Affairs


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