1st Source Bank Commercialization Award goes to Mendoza professor Joe Urbany

by Notre Dame News

Joe Urbany Joe Urbany

Research that makes it to the marketplace doesn’t only originate in science and engineering labs. For the first time since its inception, the 1st Source Bank Commercialization Award is recognizing research from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. Joe Urbany, professor of marketing and co-founder of Vennli, has been named recipient of the 1st Source Bank Commercialization Award celebrating his research that helps businesses realize their competitive advantage through customer insights.

Established in 2008 with a $1 million gift from 1st Source Bank, the award is presented each year to faculty from Notre Dame or the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend who have most successfully transitioned their technology from the lab to the marketplace.

Vennli is a technology for creating growth strategies by turning customer insights into action. In 2010 Urbany co-wrote a book titled “Grow by Focusing on What Matters: Competitive Strategy in 3-Circles” with fellow Notre Dame professor Jim Davis. The premise of the book is that growth and competitive advantage are about effective positioning, and the 3-Circle Model facilitates speed of understanding and action by focusing strategic attention on what influences customer decisions.

Founded in 2013, Vennli is based on this proven model developed by Urbany and with the software expertise of co-founder Gary Gigot. Vennli is a SaaS (software as a service) platform with a built-in electronic survey that makes customer research simple and fast and presents the results in an intuitive way so businesses know exactly what to do to increase their competitive advantage. The Vennli software is designed to replicate the 3-Circle model with substantial improvements allowed by technology, such as step-by-step guidance, a built-in survey design and research platform, automatic analysis of customer feedback, continuous collaboration among team members, and the ability to store a portfolio of strategic ideas.

In 2014, Vennli launched a beta program with more than 80 customers that spanned various industries, geography and size. Urbany’s leadership and commitment were instrumental to the success of the beta program and the subsequent launch of the technology to the market.

The 1st Source Award, which carries a $20,000 cash prize, was presented Tuesday (April 14) at the Gillespie Center with the theme “It Takes a Village to Commercialize an Idea.”

Other finalists for the award included Gary Bernstein for Indiana Integrated Circuit LLC, Patrick Fay for Traycer Diagnostic Systems, Malcolm Fraser for Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals, Michael Lemmon for EmNet, Marvin Miller for Hsiri Therapeutics, Carol Tanner and Steve Ruggiero for LightSprite LLC, and Bradley Smith for Molecular Targeting Technologies Inc.

In addition to Urbany, other individuals and organizations were honored for their work in 2014, including:

  • One hundred and eight faculty who submitted 180 disclosures.
  • Thirty-three inventors who were awarded 24 patents.
  • The licensing of 13 technologies representing the work of 19 researchers.
  • Investors and mentors from six firms and organizations on the local, state, regional and national levels.
  • Underwriters and firms supporting Proof of Technology efforts.
  • Twelve on- and off-campus programs and partnering entities, ranging from the Cleveland Clinic Innovations to incubators to entrepreneurial programs and contests to patent law support.

The keynote speaker at this year’s event was Michael D. Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson. Watson is one of IBM’s most significant innovations in the company’s 103-year history and represents a new era of information technology.

Contact: Pat McMahon, Office of Research, 574-631-1322, mcmahon.89@nd.edu