Reflecting on Over 20 Years of Service to OTT – Kevin Lei

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Kevin Lei first joined Emory in 1997. Since then, he has served the Office of Technology Transfer for over 2 decades in a variety of roles. He has helped to advance the intellectual property of the university, built strong relationships with Emory faculty, and has been a strong promoter of Emory technologies. He also served as the university’s first Technology Scout, which has proven to be an important role for researchers with novel technologies or start-up concepts. His contributions to OTT have been invaluable. To celebrate Kevin’s retirement after an incredible career, we asked him to reflect on his time with our office.

Kevin Lei headshot

Kevin Lei, CLP, Director of Faculty & Start-up Services

Tell us a little about the positions you have held in OTT. 

“I have held the positions of Licensing Associate, Assistant Director, Associate Director, Director of VentureLab, and Director, Faculty & Startup Services.”

What has been the most challenging aspect of your time in OTT?

“There were two challenging aspects. The first was identifying entrepreneurs who have domain expertise and capital raising experience in private markets and are willing to take the lead in developing an early-stage Emory startup. The second was getting early-stage Emory startups funded by investors.”

What do you see as the biggest changes in TT at Emory and nationally during your time in the profession?

“I think it is the increased scope of responsibilities of TT. Tech Transfer used to mean filing patents and licensing technologies. Nowadays, TT is involved in many other things, startups, translational research funding, seed-stage venture funding, faculty and student entrepreneurship, creating and nurturing vibrant innovation ecosystems, industry partnership, just to name a few.”

What are you proudest of accomplishing during your tenure in OTT?

“Earning the faculty’s trust.”

What are you proudest of accomplishing during your professional career?

“Becoming one of the 800 (+ or -) CLPs (Certified Licensing Professionals) in the world.”

Can you share a memorable, humorous story about your time in Tech Transfer?

“OTT’s deal-making driving force can be anything! My supervisor’s supervisor once told me that if I could close a specific license deal by 10pm on August 31, he would be willing to dance on a table.”

What are you looking forward to the most in retirement?

“Traveling a lot to see the world and learning a sport and a music instrument that I wanted to but did not have time to learn previously.”

What do you think you might miss the most?

“Interactions with faculty.”

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

“Investment.”

Let’s conclude with a short lightening round of five questions.

Morning person or night owl?

“Morning person.”

Breakfast food or dinner food?

“Breakfast food.”

A night out or a night in?

“A night in.”

Read a book or watch a movie?

“Read a book.”

Sunrise or sunset?

“Sunrise.”