Dr. Rodney S. Ridley Sr. AUTM Annual Meeting Panel

Photo courtesy of AUTM. From left: Chuck Valauskas, Valauskas Corder, LLP; Dr. Rodney S. Ridley Sr., Alvernia University; and Keith Marmer, University of Utah 

Senior leader Ridley serves as higher education panelist; Ph.D. student lands AUTM fellowship  

Alvernia University Vice President of Research, Economic Development & Innovation, Dean of the College of STEAM and O’Pake Insitute Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Rodney S. Ridley, Sr. serves as a panelist on the Reimagining The TTO: From Technology Transfer to Knowledge Transfer panel at the 2023 AUTM Annual Meeting in Austin, Tx. 


The AUTM Annual Meeting, held from Feb. 19-22, is attended by technology transfer professionals from around the globe the develop connections and gain insights from world-class speakers and panels. Ridley’s panel, featuring other panelists in academic tech transfer, highlighted how continued mission growth and increased federal expectations arising from the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 will shape the future of academic tech transfer.  


“As a smaller institution with resource challenges, you have to make sure you are aligning yourself with the mission of the institution,” said Ridley. “It forces you to be extremely innovative in how you approach things. I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur with a startup and successful startups do whatever it takes to survive. With that, we have innovated how to bring undergraduate and graduate students to work in our office and I have a couple of my students sitting in the audience because if they're going to be the future, why not learn today... If you do it right, how tech transfer not only affects the university but the community around it, can become the future of how universities can change society.”  


Ridley founded the O’Pake Institute’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO), SPARK Business Incubator and O’Pake Fellows Program where Alvernia students have experiential learning opportunities with local businesses in Greater Berks County. He also oversees business venture investment activities, industry outreach and the Intellectual Property (IP) Committee. Ridley holds 28 U.S. patents and numerous foreign patents of his own and has facilitated the O’Pake Institute’s first patent secured in November of 2022. 


Two Alvernia students Caitlin Long, Ph.D. graduate assistant of health, research and innovation and Robert Philpot, O’Pake Fellow of engineering, attended the annual meeting to represent O’Pake’s IP committee along with Ridley. Long is one of the three U.S. applicants who landed the Susan Riley Keyes AUTM fellowship 2022. Through this fellowship, Long receives monthly training alongside nearly 20 other fellows from Europe and has two professional mentors. Long also attends AUTM annual meeting as the chair of the IP committee. 


“I’m realizing that AUTM is all about support & making connections,” said Long. “The fellowship has given me a completely new lens and appreciation for this event. I’m loving the network I am building of other university and industry partners that will help us grow our own program.” 


Philpot’s role in the IP committee is geared toward developing prototypes based on SPARK Business Incubator clients’ needs. Through this experience, both Phlipot and Long were able to learn best practices and emerging trends in the tech transfer industry and connect with professionals, organizations, and institutes of higher education across the globe. 


The O’Pake Institute’s TTO and IP committee focuses on assisting companies and entrepreneurs in IP training, feasibility analyses, management, valuation, and commercialization. These services aim to merge the academic and commercial aspects of developing a product as well as to act as a catalyst in the commercialization process. O’Pake works with clients to ensure that they are making the proper advancements regarding patents, trademarks, or copyright and that the client selects the proper option for success. It also assists with the process of prototyping and product development.   

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