Retired President and CEO of RAYOVAC Corporation
Mr. Bernt is a private consultant and investor dedicated to assisting inventors in the formation, start-up and operation of new companies. He also serves as Senior Advisor to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA (“CMU”).
Mr. Bernt was the founder of CMU’s Technology Transfer Program and served as its Director from 1992 until July 1997; during this period the national ranking of CMU’s tech transfer activities rose from #78 to #8.
During that time, CMU completed more than fifty technology licensing agreements with small and large businesses and assisted in the start-up of more than ten CMU spin-off companies, thereby creating total value for the university and the inventors of more than $60 million.
This included the creation of LYCOS, Inc., a company based on CMU internet information search technology; its technology was conceived at CMU in 1994, initial operations were incubated at CMU under Mr. Bernt’s direction early in 1995; it was licensed to a newly created company in June 1995 and had its initial public offering in April 1996; at the time of the IPO, CMU and the inventor owned 20% of the company. The company’s market value two years later was $6 billion.
Since 1988, Mr. Bernt has been Chairman and General Partner of Griffin Group Partners, LP, a private investment partnership. Prior to 1988, he was President of two small businesses and in 1979 he became President and Chief Executive Officer of RAYOVAC Corporation, Madison, WI, a multi-national battery manufacturer with world-wide sales of $350 million, 6000 employees, 20 plants in 10 countries. Earlier, he was Chief Financial Officer of the Electric Storage Battery Co. (ESB Inc.) in Philadelphia and of National Intergroup Inc. in Pittsburgh.
Mr. Bernt's initial business experience was in operations, finance, and new product development with Whirlpool Corporation.
Born in Austria in 1931, Mr. Bernt holds an MBA degree from Carnegie Mellon University, the equivalent of a BS degree in engineering from the Federal Institute of Technology in Vienna, Austria, and a doctor's degree from the University of Economics and World Commerce in Vienna. From 1987 to 1993, Mr. Bernt was a member of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University; he served as Chair of the Advisory Boards of CMU’s School of Computer Science and of the School of Music, and has continued to serve as the Chair of the SCS Dean’s Advisory Board. Mr. Bernt is also a member of the Board of the Carnegie Science Center, WQED (Public Television and FM radio), and the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative. Mr. Bernt has been a Board member of the Pittsburgh Symphony since 1985.
His personal interests include the creation of new products and new companies, regional economic development, in addition to science, history, music and tennis. Mr. Bernt resides in Pittsburgh with his wife Connie. Their three children live in Mendham, NJ, Glen Rock, NJ, and Los Angeles, CA.
Reprinted with kind permission from Benno Bernt.