Burton D. Morgan Foundation commits to CWRU’s IP Venture Clinic, Blackstone LaunchPad

MorganThe Burton D. Morgan Foundation committed $679,400 to expand Case Western Reserve University School of Law’s intellectual property (IP) center, among the more than $2.5 million in grants recently approved by trustees of the Hudson, Ohio-based private foundation.

In addition, the foundation pledged $1.03 million through 2017 to Blackstone LaunchPad programs at Case Western Reserve and other campuses in Northeast Ohio. Blackstone LaunchPad fosters entrepreneurship through higher education by encouraging entrepreneurial thinking and activity among students.

“The Burton D. Morgan Foundation believes that, with our Blackstone Charitable Foundation partners, we have seeded an important experiential program for the region that is reaching thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs on the four campuses,” said Deborah Hoover, the foundation’s president and CEO. “These grants will not only help to draw upon the abundant entrepreneurial talents at Case Western Reserve University, but also, through the services of the IP Venture Clinic, enhance the capacity of Blackstone LaunchPad to meet the many challenges entrepreneurs confront in the startup process.”

“We’re delighted to continue a strong relationship with Burton D. Morgan and the other Blackstone LaunchPad schools of Baldwin Wallace University, Kent State University and Lorain County Community College,” said Bob Sopko, director of Case Western Reserve’s Blackstone LaunchPad program.

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation’s three-year commitment to the law school’s IP Venture Clinic follows a recent $3 million pledge from the Spangenberg Family Foundation to endow the newly named Spangenberg Center for Law, Technology & the Arts.

“With this generous grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, coming on the heels of last month’s Spangenberg Foundation gift, we will really be able to take the law school’s intellectual property program to a whole new level,” Interim Deans Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf said in a joint statement.

Established in 2013, the IP Venture Clinic is the capstone of the law school’s signature intellectual property program, known as Fusion. Students in the IP Clinic—supervised by faculty members—represent startup companies in Northeast Ohio and entrepreneurs from the Blackstone LaunchPad initiative. They develop and cultivate real-world intellectual assets, while also applying skills learned in corporate and securities law.

The clinic is designed so students gain hands-on experience in both business law and IP law, and provide critical legal resources to pre-investment entrepreneurs and inventors.

In the Fusion curriculum, students learn to analyze early-stage technologies and assess whether to invest in and facilitate their commercial development. In the clinic, students apply these skills in the process of identifying, cultivating and protecting intellectual property, as well as structuring a transaction to launch an early-stage venture.

“The grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation will allow the IP Venture Clinic to expand its reach in Northeast Ohio and train more law students interested in representing entrepreneurs and startup companies,” said Professor Craig Nard, director of the Spangenberg Center.

Ted Theofrastous, managing attorney of the IP Venture Clinic, added, “This grant will result in new businesses and investment in the region as our students continue to work with some of the brightest entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio on complex business and intellectual property matters.”

The Burton D. Morgan Foundation’s mission is to strengthen the free-enterprise system by investing in organizations and institutions that foster the entrepreneurial spirit. The foundation awards grants to support youth, collegiate and adult entrepreneurship, connecting the people, ideas and opportunities that fuel the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem.