(04/07/17) BATON ROUGE, La. – The LSU AgCenter is hosting administrators from several universities for an international conference on the best ways to disseminate technology and information to the public.
The Visegrad University Association Technology Transfer Symposium held April 2-8 includes rectors and deans from universities in the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Russia and Ukraine as well as dignitaries from embassies.
During their time in Louisiana, the visitors will hear presentations on licensing and marketing technologies and tour AgCenter facilities.
Many of the universities represented at the symposium are members of the Visegrad University Association, which promotes collaboration among universities and improving sustainability in agriculture. The AgCenter is the only U.S. institution in the association.
“We are very proud of that partnership,” said AgCenter Vice Chancellor John Russin.
The AgCenter has organized numerous student exchanges with Visegrad universities, notably with the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra, Slovakia, and Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic. Additionally, faculty from the AgCenter have visited those universities to identify opportunities to collaborate on research and outreach endeavors, and vice versa.
“What we want to do is cultivate that relationship between agricultural universities,” said LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson. He urged the administrators to get their faculties and students involved in cooperative efforts to solve international problems.
At the introductory session of the symposium on April 3, attendees heard from LSU and AgCenter administrators about how the American land-grant university system works and its significance to agriculture, both in Louisiana and globally.
“From the very beginning, this university was required to solve problems and promote economic development,” Russin said. He explained how the AgCenter shares information that is relevant to local needs through its extension offices and research stations.
LSU President F. King Alexander said those programs have been part of LSU since the university’s early days and remain critical today.
“We’ve got a big charge as universities that focus on agriculture, engineering and the sciences,” Alexander said. “We’ve got a charge to feed the world, which is going to double in the next 20 years. And how we do that efficiently, how we do that effectively, how we do that with the most productivity possible is going to be really up to us.”
Another way the AgCenter distributes information — and the focus of the symposium — is through its intellectual property office, which helps faculty turn their research findings into products or processes that can be marketed to industry partners.
“You have a place where industry can come speak directly to the university and learn about the inventions and learn about the research and the patents the land-grant university is producing,” said Wade Baumgartner, AgCenter intellectual property director.
He told about the Clearfield rice system, an AgCenter technology that transformed rice farming because the rice varieties can tolerate herbicides that kill the red rice weed, which otherwise is difficult to control.
Baumgartner said the intellectual property office helps researchers pursue projects that are beneficial to those outside the academic community.
“We want our faculty to be thinking in the same vein as the original land-grant university would be thinking — taking applied research and transferring it to the public,” he said. “We encourage our faculty to think about problems in industry.”
LSU Vice President for Agriculture Bill Richardson, left, welcomes attendees of the Visegrad University Association Technology Transfer Symposium to the LSU campus on April 3. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter