SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has selected a business technology professor, and a Salt Lake native, to be the new director of its Technology Commercialization Office.

Bryan Ritchie joins the U. from James Madison College in Michigan where he served as a professor of political economy with a focus on international relations. He was also director of the Michigan State Entrepreneur Network and co-director of the Michigan Center for Innovation and Economic Prosperity.

"Bryan is committed to taking the office to the next level, and the search committee feels he has the diversity of experience to improve our commercialization efforts and sustain the U. as a leader and model for the world," said Jack Brittain, vice president for Technology Venture Development. The office oversees TCO activity.

TCO manages the U.'s intellectual property, including the filing of patents, licensing technologies and fostering startup companies. The Association of University Technology Managers recently ranked the U. first in the country for technology start-up businesses.

Ritchie, who grew up in Salt Lake City, has started two companies and has consulted for businesses such as Novell, Dayna Communications, Century Software, Iomega and Megahertz. He holds a Ph.D. in political economy from Emory University, an MBA from Brigham Young University, and a bachelor's from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has been a professor of political economy at Michigan State University since 2001.

"The University of Utah is a recognized leader in commercialization, and I look forward to helping build on that success," Ritchie said. "I look at this as a tremendous opportunity to apply my business, academic and entrepreneurial experience to the process of increasing the economic value of exciting new ideas generated at the university. I'm also very happy to be coming home to Utah with my family after being away almost two decades."

Ritchie's academic research has focused on technology upgrades by companies, and how tech development, education, training and social capital can help deepen the commercial value of innovative discoveries.

He is expected to take his new post Sept. 14.