Cheng to lead AzTE


June 8, 2007

Augustine Cheng, associate general counsel and head of Columbia University's Patent & Licensing Group, has been appointed the managing director of Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), the company that handles technology transfer for ASU and Northern Arizona University. Cheng will officially assume his post Aug. 1.

“Augie is one of the most talented people I know working in the complex arena of intellectual property law and technology commercialization,” ASU President Michael Crow says. “From managing high-stakes patent litigation to negotiating licensing and technology transfer deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, his skills are exactly what the university needs at this time. Under Augie's leadership, I am confident that AzTE will be able to navigate the rapidly changing patent landscape and continue to advance its core mission of working with university faculty to transfer their inventions and discoveries to industry.” Download Full Image

“Augie has been instrumental in the level of success achieved by Columbia University in technology transfer,” adds Craig Weatherup, chairman of the AzTE board of directors and chairman of the ASU Foundation board. “Our university is fortunate to have him joining the team.”

Cheng says it was Crow's vision for ASU and its research mission that drew him to the position.

“It's truly an extraordinary time to be at ASU as Dr. Crow and his team work with the university and broader community, as well as local and state officials, to transform ASU into a new model for public research universities,” Cheng says. “In a very short period of time, there has been remarkable progress on all fronts. In the specific area of technology transfer the university is now well-positioned to begin moving into a tier that has been traditionally dominated by research institutions such as Columbia.

“There is tremendous promise in the multi-disciplinary approach advanced by Dr. Crow to finding scientific solutions to some of most important problems of our time. ASU research initiatives, such as the Biodesign Institute and the Flexible Display Center, are among the most innovative in the country.”

AzTE is a subsidiary of the ASU Foundation. Johnnie Ray, the president and chief executive officer of the ASU Foundation, says moving the university's discoveries into society where they can be of benefit to humankind is a fundamental part of ASU's vision as the New American University.

“Augie Cheng believes strongly in this part of our mission and he has vast experience in setting up and managing structures to make it happen,” Ray says.

Cheng says he will turn to strengthening AzTE's relationship with faculty and the rest of the university community.

“University investigators are the key to successful technology transfer organizations,” he says. “They are the pipeline for the scientific advancements that AzTE is charged with moving into the commercial sector.”

His team also will focus on creating long-term relationships with industry sponsors and venture capital firms.

Michael Cleare, executive director of Science & Technology Ventures of Columbia University, has worked closely with Cheng for the past several years.

“Augie Cheng, a talented business lawyer, has a tremendous ability to understand complex issues from the legal and business perspectives, and to use these insights to come up with innovative solutions for licensing deals,” Cleare says.

Cheng has been at Columbia since 1994, when he was appointed an associate general counsel focusing in the areas of litigation, contracts, and technology transfer. Before joining Columbia, he was in private practice with the New York law firms of Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Schulte Roth & Zabel. He also served as a law clerk for William Timbers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Cheng received his undergraduate education at Columbia University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in political science from Columbia College in 1984. He received his law degree in 1989 from Fordham Law School, where he was an associate editor of the Fordham Law Review.

Sharon Keeler

associate director, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

480-727-5618