Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

CIE News

Friday Feature: Chris Krumm and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization

by Nikki Kroushl on December 2, 2016

Chris Krumm
Jeff Janowski/UNCW

“I really fell in love with school, and that's sort of how I got where I am,” says Chris Krumm, Interim Manager of the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, of his meandering track through higher education. After time at Coastal Carolina University, in the army's 82nd Airborne Division, and at Stockton University for education in physical therapy and psychology, he came to UNCW as a student in the Master's of Education Higher Education program.

While working in the Office of the Dean of Students and seeking programming for graduate students, he found his way to the CIE building.

“I liked the idea of it because when I was younger, I was into entrepreneurship,” Krumm says. “I just deviated from that route and didn't think about it until I came back over here… I got here a little bit by chance, by timing, and by the desire to be back in this area.”

And when he came back to entrepreneurship, he came to stay. When a graduate assistantship position opened up at the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, or the OIC, Chris applied, and OIC director Dr. Craig Galbraith hired him. A few months later, he was promoted to Interim Manager of the Office.

“We're a new office,” Krumm says. Much of his initial work was organizational, transferring paper agreements regarding the university's intellectual property into a database system. Now he also manages the new graduate assistants, communicates with faculty about the processes and procedures for technology transfer, and helps plan the programs that the OIC runs on its own and in tandem with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The OIC serves as what most universities would deem a technology transfer office—technology transfer being the process of turning faculty research into patents and commercial products.

“We provide support for [the faculty],” Krumm says. “Advising, mentoring, connecting them with people, setting up the programs here at the CIE… we also help them submit to the IP Support Committee, where they present their idea and ask for funding, graduate or undergraduate assistants, or other things.”

But it's about more than that.

“Innovation,” Krumm says, “is about creating something new or making something better, but really, in a more practical sense, it's about bringing that to market. What good is it if you have an idea that creates value, but no one knows about it?”

He adds, “[The OIC is] a technology transfer office, but we're called the Office of Innovation and Commercialization because we encourage innovation in general at the university.” One of the OIC’s unique functions, Krumm notes, is that faculty can choose to commercialize their own research and start companies in the office space that the CIE provides.

The OIC participates in numerous CIE programs and performs its own outreach. It was heavily involved in planning the UNCW Hackathon of a few weeks ago. It also administers the Ignite Program, a scholarship of sorts that gives UNCW students with entrepreneurial ventures up to $3,000, office space at the CIE, mentorship, and more to help them get their businesses off the ground. (Previous Ignite Program participants include Leah Sherrill with Special Pedals and Hillary Scott with Greenflare.)  Its third large outreach project is the annual Chancellor's High School Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition, in which high school students submit business plans and rocket pitches and present at the CIE.

One of the things that makes Krumm so good at his job is his own genuine interest in entrepreneurship.

“Now as I get older, I know that I want to be an entrepreneur,” Krumm says. “And I’m in the perfect place for that.”

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