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"Bring That Dream to Us": Innovation Law Center's Jack Rudnick Profiled on Syracuse.com

Posted on Tuesday 12/3/2019
Jack Rudnick

Jack Rudnick on Leadership: Show Compassion, Build Trust, Ask Questions to Accelerate Innovation

(syracuse.com | Dec. 3, 2019) Jack Rudnick had a front-row seat for innovation and entrepreneurship in Central New York – and still does.

He was general counsel at Welch Allyn. He retired in 2010 after nearly 20 years helping the Skaneateles company grow into a medical-devices giant, spinning off a number of businesses. Earlier, he worked nearly 20 years in the legal department at Oneida Ltd. when it was an American manufacturing icon and darling of Wall Street. He’s also a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve.

Now, he is a professor of practice at the Syracuse University College of Law and runs the Innovation Law Center.

The center schools SU’s law students in what it takes to help inventors, entrepreneurs, and companies bring products to market. CNY companies benefit from the law students’ research into patents, compliance, regulations, and similar work.

To succeed in leadership, he lists a number of vital traits: Honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, curiosity, and compassion.

Tell me about the Innovation Law Center and your role.

I became aware of it as the general counsel at Welch Allyn. There were really bright students here in law and business that would look at early-stage technologies, medical or any kind, and do a landscape research to advise clients, Welch Allyn or whoever it was, about the prospects for that tech being commercialized.

We’re designated by New York as the state’s Science and Technology Law Center. I'm the director of that. I'm also director of the Innovation Law Center. I think that’s enough directorships. (Laughter)

When I came, it was my idea to grow from six projects to 60 and then to 106 like we have now. Obviously, I didn't do that myself.

By project, I mean an invention, someone’s patent to be, perhaps a prototype or device. It’s an idea from an ambitious student or a doctor at Upstate Medical University or some bright person at Syracuse Research Corp. The person or the company will bring that idea, that invention, that patent-to-be, that dream to us, and we will research it.

We mostly do startups, which is why I go to Upstate Venture Connect events. The success rate of startups is minimal – about 10 percent. When you have volumes – not six but 106 – you start to get successes, and success breeds success.

It’s a little bit of the faculty, sure, but mostly it's law students who have been trained and now they are in their third year and they act as mentors to other students. It’s one way we train them to be leaders ...

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