Mark Billingsley is the director of University of Alaska Fairbanks‘ Tech Transfer Office and Innovation Hub, having joined the profession in 2015 after first working as an engineer and then holding various legal jobs, such as assistant public defender.
He joins Talking Tech Transfer to discuss how you do tech transfer when the US federal government’s definition of “rural communities” covers the whole state and rural to you means 30 people that live 200 miles from the nearest road.
He also talks about why Alaskans are an entrepreneurial culture but one that is yet to fully embrace innovation and why the state’s remoteness means startups and founders are much more resilient than they might be in the lower 48 states.
One of the biggest challenges UAF faces is the fact that there is no VC firm in all of Alaska, or even one from the other states that has a venture partner in Fairbanks. It is a problem Billingsley is trying to solve through his involvement in the Alaska Angel Conference and exploring interest from people who might want to create a firm.
He also ponders how he juggles his many day jobs, which include everything from writing grant applications to handling human resources, as well as serving as director of Alaska Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship.