Researcher-Industry collaboration: Establishing and maintaining value-added partnerships

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 3:30 - 5:00 PM Eastern Time Zone

Webinar Type: Archive
Webinar Code: AT16-WEB33-MS-AR
Webinar Fee: $0

This is an ATIA Sponsored Webinar from the ATIA Research Committee. There is no fee to attend this webinar. Please note: CEUs are not available for this webinar.

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Academic researchers and industry managers can effectively collaborate to deliver evidence-based assistive technology (AT) product innovations to the marketplace. This session presents case examples of successful researcher-industry collaborations highlighting how the expertise within each sector added value to the overall innovation process. The issues considered include finding partners with required expertise, building a shared product vision, and staying in sync at various stages of research, development and commercialization. Presenters will share perspectives on what worked well and why, reflecting on useful tactics and mechanisms for effective coordination of efforts during conception, design, development and deployment of featured product examples.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will describe in-depth three case examples of successful researcher-industry partnerships.
  2. Participants will list five points of collaboration with mutual value.
  3. Participants will discuss at least one action item to improve University-Industry relations.


Lori Geist

Project Director/Research Associate
Center for Literacy and Disability Studies
Lori Geist, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a faculty member at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lori has worked in direct service, consultation, and product development related to augmentative and alternative communication, language and literacy intervention. She is currently project director for Project Core, funded through a Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Stepping Up Technology Implementation grant.
Speaker Financial Relationship Disclosure: Yes
Speaker Non-Financial Relationship Disclosure: Yes

Lynn Gitlow

Ithaca College
Dr. Lynn Gitlow has been an occupational therapist for almost 30 years. She specializes in the areas of mental health, geriatric and assistive technology. Dr. Gitlow is an associate professor of occupational therapy at Ithaca College. She has published and presented on topics related to assistive technology both nationally and internationally.
Speaker Financial Relationship Disclosure: No
Speaker Non-Financial Relationship Disclosure: No

James Leahy

University at Buffalo
James Leahy – Co-Principal Investigator Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (KT4TT) and previously Co-Principal Investigator and Director of Commercialization RERC on Technology Transfer. In 1993, Mr. Leahy brought twenty years of invention evaluation, industrial product design, development and project management experience to the US Department of Education/NIDRR funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology Transfer (T2RERC) at the University at Buffalo. Over the years he led the T2RERC’s Supply Push transfer program resulting in many product transfers, and created a Corporate Collaboration model and program where the T2RERC partnered with Fortune 500 companies (e.g., Black & Decker, Kodak, White Rodgers, Tupperware, Whirlpool and others) to improve the accessibility and usability of new mainstream products. He has created partnerships between major corporations and other NIDILRR RERCs and serves as a Technology Transfer (TT) consultant to US DHHS/ACL/NIDILRR technology grantees and other assistive technology inventors nationwide. Currently, Mr. Leahy's experience reviewing over one thousand prototypes and successfully commercializing nearly fifty devices qualifies him to lead the Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (KT4TT) Technical Assistance Activities and Project D2 where he continues to generate new product outcomes from original R&D and where he demonstrates effective TT practices to US DHHS/NIDILRR technology grantees who act as participant/observers on the projects. He is a co-inventor on the patented Automated Pill Crusher (First Crush) licensed to First Wave Technology.
Speaker Financial Relationship Disclosure: No
Speaker Non-Financial Relationship Disclosure: No

David Arnott

Comforts of Home
David Arnott has worked in marketing and new product development for consumer brands such as Braun, Oral-B, and Black & Decker. He is currently operating non-medical service company that he founded with a friend and colleague in South Florida.
Speaker Financial Relationship Disclosure: No
Speaker Non-Financial Relationship Disclosure: No

Dianne Goodwin

BlueSky Designs
Dianne Goodwin is President of BlueSky Designs, a company she founded in 1997 which designs accessible products so people with disabilities can do what they want to do.

Goodwin’s background is diverse. In the 70’s, she was a naturalist, led canoe and camping trips for kids with disabilities and a drafter at Tonka Toys. In 1987 she received a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia with an emphasis in Rehab Engineering. She designed custom devices for hundreds of people with disabilities at Gillette Children’s Hospital and Tamarack Habilitation Technologies and went on to develop commercial assistive devices at AbleNet.

Since 1997, BlueSky Designs has been awarded ten Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from three agencies: the National Institutes of Health, Department of Education (NIDRR) and USDA. Two commercial products and six patents have resulted. The first product, an accessible tent, was licensed to Eureka! In 2006, the Freedom tent received a DaVinci Award from the MS Society in 2006. BlueSky launched its second product, an independently accessible mount in 2008, choosing to manufacture, distribute and support the product itself. Roughly 3,000 units have been sold in over 25 countries. BlueSky has another NIH SBIR award to develop an extension to this product—a robotic mounting and positioning device individuals can control with switches, their voice or smart devices.

Goodwin is very involved in the field of Rehab Engineering and assistive technology, has served on the Board of RESNA and regularly presents at national and international conferences in the field of Assistive Technology.
Speaker Financial Relationship Disclosure: No
Speaker Non-Financial Relationship Disclosure: No

Kathleen Hanek

Sr. Product Manager
SP Ableware, a Division of SP
Kathleen Hanek graduated from the Catholic University of America in 1995 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering focusing on Rehabilitation. In 1996 she joined the staff of SP Ableware (formerly Maddak Inc.). SP Ableware is recognized as a leading manufacturer of Aids for Daily Living and is committed to the development and manufacture of products that make everyday activities easier for seniors, people with disabilities and people recovering from injury. For the past 19 years she has played a key role in the development and launch of many products. She has collaborated numerous times with researchers, inventors and industry professionals to successfully bridge the gap between idea generation and product launch.
Speaker Financial Relationship Disclosure: No
Speaker Non-Financial Relationship Disclosure: No



Target Audience

Accessibility Professionals, AT Professionals, Educators, Family Members, Higher Ed Personnel, Individuals with Disabilities, OTs, PTs

Experience Level


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