A Legacy in Technology Transfer and Ventures
“There was a brief moment in time when Activision was the most successful software company in the world, ahead of Microsoft, Lotus and all others,” Joel Bresler recalls from his days working at the iconic video game company. Having begun his career in the videodisc industry, Joel closely followed the entire technology business with great interest. When advancements such as pay cable and videotape overtook videodisc, Joel soon moved to greener pastures, first to Activision and then to other technology companies
Today, he prepares to semi-retire from his role as Director of Technology Ventures at Northeastern University. However, he is not quite ready to ride off into the sunset. In conversation, one gets the impression that he might never be as he speaks about his career with the Huskies.
In 2011, Joel Bresler joined Northeastern University as the Center for Research Innovation’s Director of Commercialization. “I’ll be honest – I did not know I would end up spending a decade at it. Clearly it suited me!”, he laughs as he fondly remembers his time at Northeastern. He spent nearly eight of the past ten years as Technology Portfolio Director where he spearheaded the development of GapFund360 to help advance the commercial prospects of early-stage lab technologies. The program, a predecessor to the Spark Fund, would go on to help ventures bridge the gap between pre-prototype potential and commercial licensing. “It is one of the programs that I am most excited about,” he remarks . “Alongside the Express Licensing Initiative.”.
Before Northeastern’s Express License, it took more than 12 weeks to negotiate licensing terms with spinouts. With the help of CRI’s Intellectual Property team, Joel sought to accelerate the uncomfortably long process and succeeded by boiling down the process to three sets of contracts. The outcome of this initiative was a notable upswing in licensing, spinout company formations and invention disclosures.
Northeastern’s upsurge in inventions, research and patents has been growing dramatically as has researcher and leadership satisfaction. The university’s innovation ecosystem has benefited from Joel’s work in encouraging access to resources provided by CRI as well as support initiatives from D’Amore-McKim School of Business. “I don’t see the pace slowing down anytime soon,” Bresler remarked, noting the advancements in technology generated at Northeastern. “One of our life sciences spinoffs recently raised $117 million in private equity capital – that is a record,” he said, listing other breakthroughs one after the other. “We have had 3 companies acquired in the last four years. Work in collagen technology and quantum computing, for instance have been very fruitful,” Joel adds with parental pride before finishing, “There is a lot to be excited about right now in what we’re doing.”
Joel’s decade-long work at the CRI has spawned fruits that will continue to bolster the organization for many years to come. “His contributions to the CRI have been numerous and impactful, leaving a legacy of deepened relationships with Northeastern researchers and quality entrepreneurial services,” reminisces Jennifer Boyle-Lynch, CRI Director and longtime colleague.
Joel is turning his attention to running the Spark Fund and working on special projects for the CRI on a part-time basis. He moves into his final innings leaving big shoes to fill. “An amazing colleague and friend to the entire CRI team, cheering us on at every turn, Joel will be greatly missed,” Boyle-Lynch adds gratefully.
Written by Vijay Harisudan Sivasekar