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Spotlight: Q&A with Grant Brewer, Executive Director of LICENSE, LINK + LICENSE + LAUNCH

Grant Brewer portrait.

With almost two decades of experience in license negotiations, patent prosecution, and exploring the many facets of university technology transfer and entrepreneurship, Grant Brewer says he is at his best when working with faculty to understand the motivations behind their research. Professionally, the source of his motivation comes from his passion to provide a valuable service to the research community, and personally—his wife and two daughters.

How does your background contribute to where you are right now in your career?

I began my career in the biotechnology industry, managing the manufacturing operations of medical devices and therapeutics. These experiences gave me insight into the industry, but left my appetite for scientific development somewhat unfulfilled. However, I was exposed to the local medical school’s tech transfer operation in this role and immediately recognized the fit to my interests and background. Since that introduction, I have spent my career exploring the many facets of university technology transfer and entrepreneurship.

What support do you provide for the research community?

I would like to think that our research community sees me as a resource to help protect their intellectual assets and ensure they are recognized for the impacts their work makes on the world. Also, to the extent faculty would like to start their own company based on Virginia Tech research, I try to make the partnership with the university one that supports the endeavor, while maintaining compliance with the many associated procedural and legal requirements. Last, I hope to be a resource for the faculty to gain understanding of the patenting process, which can be complex and very time consuming.

Grant holiding a fish.
Brewer enjoys woodworking and fly fishing in his down time. Here, Brewer caught a rainbow trout while fishing the Gallatin River in Bozeman, Montana in 2018.

How has COVID-19 positively impacted the way you do your job today?

That is a tough one. As the spouse of a COVID-19 doctor and the father of two young children, this has been a difficult year for the Brewer family. However, I will say that these difficulties have given me a renewed and profound appreciation for the university. The commitment Virginia Tech’s leadership has illustrated to our community makes me proud to be where I am. I find myself ever-more grateful for the gifts in my life, including my family and my profession. Also, it has helped me realize how much I love the people I work with. I really miss being in the office with my friends and colleagues. It has also provided me some time to work on a few of my hobbies like fly fishing and woodworking.   

Photo of Brewer and his wife Diane and children Carter-Elise and Weston.
Brewer and his wife Diane and children Carter-Elise and Weston.

What inspires you?

I’d say I am most inspired by watching others persevere through difficult times. Watching my wife leave for the hospital, seven days a week, to care for sick and dying people makes me so proud of her. Especially in today’s climate, she does these things at great risk to those she loves most, but she never complains or makes selfish decisions. My wife inspires me more than anyone — no contest.  

When do you think you are at your best, professionally?

I think I am at my best when I am working with faculty to understand the motivations behind their research. Sometimes I am asked to make difficult decisions, like most of us, but it is never hard to see the beauty in the amazing work being done at Virginia Tech. Also, given almost two decades of experience in license negotiations and patent prosecution, I do feel confident in my ability to make sound business decisions in this realm. To the extent that others need my support on contractual negotiations or intellectual property advice, I am always happy to provide my input.  

In what ways does Virginia Tech’s Principles of Community guide you?

If I was cool enough to sport a tattoo, it might say “Ut Prosim.” I can’t think of a better beacon for the decisions one makes in his or her life than to reflect on your actions through a lens of service. My job is most rewarding when I can provide a valuable service to our community. However, the role in life I cherish most is that of a father. Serving the needs of my family will always be the priority in my life. 

A photo of Brewer on the beach with his wife and children.
Brewer says the most rewarding aspect of his job is knowing he provides valuable service to the Virginia Tech community. However, the role in life he cherishes most is that of a father.

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