Dr. Paula Mendonça is the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Memorial University. She leads Memorial’s Research Innovation Office (RIO) and is responsible for facilitating and supporting the university’s strategic and long-term approach to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship activities across its campuses. Originally from Lisbon, Portugal, Paula has been in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2002 where she completed a Ph.D. in Biology from Memorial. Paula has been working in intellectual property and technology transfer for more than a decade. (RIO website here) (Alternate email here)
What did you do leading up to your current role?
I came to Newfoundland in 2002 to do my PhD in biology at Memorial. During this time, I became more and more interested in the impacts of my research and how research in general can impact society in a positive way.
As I was considering what else I could do with my PhD other than academia, I found out about technology transfer, which was being done out of Memorial’s Genesis Centre at the time.
I started volunteering with Genesis in 2007, and around this time I landed a position as a maternity leave replacement as the Life Sciences Technology Commercialization Officer at Genesis. After I finished my PhD, returned to Genesis and technology transfer.
How have Memorial’s Technology Transfer Office’s changed over the years?
The Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office (TTCO) was formed after upon the integration of the technology transfer arm of Genesis into the Office of the Vice-President (Research); and I recently became the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, leading the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office and its expanded role. While the TTCO was mainly known as a patent and license shop, we have a broader role now.
In what ways?
We are still committed to commercializing of the research outcomes of our faculty, students and staff but we also do a lot of intellectual property and commercialization education to our researchers and start-ups.
We are front facing, doing workshops, holding information sessions and providing support to our entrepreneurial groups, like Genesis, the Memorial Entrepreneurship Centre (MCE) and the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP).
And of course, there is the matchmaking, facilitating partnerships between the private sector and the university. I like to say that the TTCO creates strategic research partnerships and support commercialization by moving ideas towards opportunities. In my new role as DI&E, it is my job to support and drive an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship at the institution.
In what ways do you see Springboard supporting Memorial’s environment for innovation and entrepreneurship?
I’ve been with Springboard since 2007, so I’ve seen the growth and changes of the organization. The Springboard we have now is particularly different from the one when I started.
We are an extremely collaborative and caring group who are all working towards a common goal to the benefit of our region.
We are not about competition, it’s about collaboration and that’s made obvious by our success stories, our outputs and our metrics. I don’t think the region would be where it is today without this network. Springboard has been extremely important in supporting the efforts at Memorial and making a significant contribution to the sustainable economic growth of our region.
How do you think your job would be different without Springboard?
It would be harder to put partnerships together and to find appropriate collaborations. There have been a lot of opportunities that have come our way due to another Springboard member understanding what expertise we have at Memorial and bringing us in, and the other way around as well.
That’s what is interesting about the network, all 19 members have different structures and policies within their institutions, but those differences compliment each other and we are adding value to each others opportunities, maximizing all our efforts.