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John M. Hanak Named Chief Innovation and Corporate Officer and Executive Director of the New Office of Innovation and Corporate Partnerships at OU

John M. Hanak Named Chief Innovation and Corporate Officer and Executive Director of the New Office of Innovation and Corporate Partnerships at OU

Hanak portrait

John M. Hanak will lead a new office at the University of Oklahoma focused on integrating the university’s efforts in technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, and corporate partnerships for sponsored research and education.

“John brings decades of experience managing startups and innovation ecosystems that connect academic intellectual property and technologies with commercialization, resulting in positive economic growth and societal impacts,” said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, Vice President for Research and Partnerships on the OU Norman campus.

“The OU Health Sciences Center is home to the largest biomedical research program in Oklahoma and brings new treatments and technologies to patients through the OU Health system,” said Jason Sanders, M.D., M.B.A., Senior Vice President and Provost of the OU Health Sciences Center and co-chair of the Board of OU Health. “We are eager to work with John and the Office of Innovation and Corporate Partnerships to rapidly accelerate commercialization and startup ventures based on the expertise of our researchers and clinicians.”

As the chief innovation and corporate officer and executive director of the new Office of Innovation and Corporate Partnerships, Hanak will represent the university’s three campuses. He will serve as the university’s senior intellectual property officer and is responsible for managing all elements of the innovation ecosystem. He will work closely with faculty, students, staff and the external community to facilitate strategic private-sector partnerships, patenting and licensing of OU’s intellectual property, and the process of creating new startup companies based on OU IP.

“The leadership at the University of Oklahoma is laser-focused on where they want to go in terms of innovation and economic development activities,” Hanak said. “This is an opportunity to bring to bear work I’ve been doing for decades and really make a contribution to what I think is going to a remarkable technical and cultural revolution for the university and the state of Oklahoma.”  

“I plan on spending a great deal of time in Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa to work toward a unified approach to innovation,” he added. “My office will be forging relationships with faculty, students and staff, and with investors, companies and entrepreneurs to remove barriers to moving the intellectual output of the university into the marketplace for the betterment of Oklahoma, the nation and the world.”

Hanak’s appointment and the creation of the Office of Innovation and Corporate Partnerships at OU is the latest step in fulfilling a component of the Lead On, University Strategic Plan that calls for ensuring “flexible and efficient intellectual property policies and processes that make the faculty and staff competitive when seeking the support of the private sector, or when seeking to patent and license inventions.”

OU also recently announced new intellectual property terms for corporate-sponsored research at the Norman Campus designed to bridge academic research and workforce development with corporate innovation to drive economic development and technological advances in the state.

Prior to joining OU, Hanak was the managing director of Purdue Ventures, the startup investment and fund management arm of the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub of the Purdue Research Foundation he co-founded in 2014. He is the managing director of North Riverside Partners, a firm that provides consultative services with expertise on startup ecosystems.

From 2008 to 2013, he served as the statewide director of Purdue’s network of technology incubators across Indiana. Prior to co-founding a technology commercialization firm in 2003 and arriving at the Purdue Research Foundation in 2005, Hanak served as president, CEO and board member of Digital Innovations, a Chicago-based technology product development and marketing firm. Before joining Digital Innovations, he spent more than 20 years in the steel industry with a Fortune 500 integrated steel manufacturer where he was vice president. He also co-founded a small angel investment partnership.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University and a juris doctorate from the John Marshall Law School, now known as the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law. He has served, and continues to serve, on several corporate and volunteer boards and is a former chair of the board of directors of the International Business Innovation Association and a former president of the Venture Club of Indiana.

This article was originally published by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

Article Published:  Wednesday, September 22, 2021