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Universities Gain from Licensing Activity

December 20, 2010

Although economic growth stagnated in 2009, a new survey says scientific research from about 150 universities created 555 startup companies and resulted in over 4,500 patent optioning and licensing deals last year, earning $1.8 billion in payouts for the institutions in the process. The numbers continue a decade-long trend of the increased role of universities in generating commercial products for businesses.

"Technology transfer" -- as the process of universities commercializing their findings is known -- allows businesses to turn the fruits of academic research into new technologies, such as new drugs and energy-saving products. In return, universities collect licensing fees or royalties, or a partial ownership stake in a product. Universities also typically have a small staff dedicated to brokering deals on hand -- not an insignificant source of employment itself.

The Association of University Technology Managers, which conducted the survey, found across-the-board gains in almost all areas examined. Staffing, non-"royalty buyout" licensing, and optioning all showed nontrivial increases. Startup creation held steady from 2008 -- but, because fewer institutions participated in this year's survey, there was growth in relative numbers.

Comparisons from year to year are dicey for the AUTM survey, because the roster of participating institutions changes. That caution aside, total licensing income rose to $1.76 billion in 2009 from $1.3 billion in 2008, about a 35 percent increase.

In 2009, technology transfers resulted in the creation of 555 companies -- about the same as in 2008. The number of employees working on university licensing increased slightly from 1,039.34 reported in 2008, to 1,049.76 in 2009.

The number of patent applications by universities and medical research institutions in 2009 dipped to 12,109 from 12,194 in 2008 -- a small decline in absolute numbers. But again, those figures come from a smaller pool of universities, and in terms of number per institution, the data show an increase.

In 1991, only about 1,500 patents were filed by institutions. By 2002, that number had risen to about 6,500. Today's much greater figure tracks the general trend: investors like what they see happening on campus.

Licensing Income and Other Data on University Technology Transfer, 2009

Institution 2009 Research Spending Start-Ups Licenses and Options Executed Patent Applications 2009 Licensing Income
Northwestern U $400,012,497 3 31 168 $161,591,544
Columbia U 604,660,000 13 51 202 154,257,579
New York U 308,834,000 5 38 50 113,110,437
U of California System 4,686,598,210 47 237 928 103,104,667
Wake Forest U 162,084,439 3 8 N.A. 95,636,362
U of Minnesota 590,880,956 3 53 65 95,168,525
U of Washington/Washington Research Fdn. 1,076,044,801 10 231 145 87,339,905
U of Massachusetts 489,060,000 1 50 85 70,553,428
Massachusetts Inst. of Technology 1,375,073,000 18 91 509 66,450,000
Stanford U 733,266,108 9 77 221 65,054,187
U of Wisconsin at Madison 1,132,000,000 1 57 129 56,714,000
U of Florida 496,063,499 10 115 180 53,880,476
California Inst. of Technology 521,436,800 18 37 381 47,665,535
U of Rochester 377,246,000 2 15 63 46,025,270
U of Iowa Research Fdn. 334,936,000 3 21 18 42,922,081
U of Texas System 2,272,779,788 22 161 330 32,428,040
U of Georgia 349,730,000 6 124 71 30,531,425
Mount Sinai School of Medicine of NYU 321,299,455 - 8 36 25,081,703
Duke U 709,803,045 4 97 155 19,048,244
U of Michigan 1,016,565,913 8 78 153 18,311,368
Case Western Reserve U 332,661,000 5 31 104 16,281,957
Research Foundation of SUNY 849,961,108 5 49 140 16,205,537
Emory U 416,476,261 1 36 53 15,034,198
U of Illinois (Chicago, Urbana-Champaign) 905,365,000 8 49 132 13,364,056
U of Utah 354,653,777 19 79 108 12,422,572
Johns Hopkins U 1,242,316,445 10 99 458 12,387,415
Harvard U 705,074,000 8 65 175 12,308,207
U of Pennsylvania 760,836,000 4 62 517 11,658,000
Vanderbilt U 457,357,428 1 46 64 11,329,700
U of Missouri, all campuses 339,124,184 5 79 48 10,400,726
Texas A&M U System 630,655,000 6 63 63 9,897,559
Tulane U 130,908,211 - 2 12 9,366,708
Georgetown U 230,637,658 - 11 50 9,222,996
U of Chicago/UCTech 336,155,979 - 16 29 9,025,392
Iowa State U 253,323,000 1 82 32 8,832,802
Baylor College of Medicine 305,687,000 - 56 14 8,809,000
Tufts U 172,866,529 - 9 20 8,390,154
Rutgers U 236,502,404 5 87 60 8,128,609
Carnegie Mellon U 232,992,000 10 19 49 8,041,047
U of Oregon 110,321,683 1 33 3 7,188,653
Ohio U 41,256,000 - 1 49 6,875,069
Louisiana State U System 401,306,000 6 17 65 6,349,177
U of Virginia Patent Fdn. 261,604,000 2 57 161 6,347,487
Washington U of St. Louis 567,383,000 2 53 106 6,301,462
Indiana U (ARTI) 422,084,735 6 30 72 5,952,499
Loyola U of Chicago 36,519,094 - - 8 5,772,000
Thomas Jefferson U 94,784,221 - 18 16 5,531,467
Cornell Research Fdn., Inc. 687,430,951 3 23 129 5,100,407
North Carolina State U 380,600,000 4 91 118 4,930,022
Michigan State U 373,184,000 - 44 60 4,449,445
U of Colorado 718,000,000 11 62 118 4,430,040
U of Southern California 533,040,769 5 13 120 4,399,006
Purdue Research Fdn. 524,117,000 10 85 137 4,201,112
U of Pittsburgh 653,925,000 3 41 105 4,129,172
U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 666,871,589 1 72 61 3,063,947
Albert Einstein College of Med/Yeshiva U 142,966,051 2 10 8 2,966,838
Clemson U 140,969,423 - 13 64 2,837,226
Colorado State U 311,720,381 1 22 65 2,776,439
Brigham Young U 27,299,213 9 27 74 2,687,163
U of Alabama Birmingham Research Fdn. 431,732,000 5 29 31 2,668,761
U of South Alabama 32,882,000 - 1 4 2,553,723
Georgia Inst. of Technology 581,278,634 9 65 239 2,411,613
Oregon State U 209,061,000 4 27 25 2,407,725
U System of Maryland 817,083,316 7 44 145 2,392,959
U of Nebraska 374,822,789 6 32 139 2,273,608
Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. 211,519,580 6 35 86 2,022,510
University of Houston 99,262,000 3 6 17 1,952,557
Arizona State University 254,006,785 5 49 126 1,878,749
Dartmouth College 145,953,505 1 9 26 1,833,707
Boston University/Boston Medical Ctr. 371,652,029 4 23 45 1,776,497
Ohio State U 716,461,278 7 27 61 1,711,719
U of Kentucky Research Fdn. 248,952,000 14 19 37 1,700,000
U of Tennessee 284,211,680 2 16 146 1,609,779
North Dakota State University 113,214,000 - 96 24 1,539,570
Kansas State University Research Fdn. 105,116,954 - 6 17 1,509,490
Oregon Health & Science University N.A. 3 57 36 1,492,748
Oklahoma State University 163,066,112 3 14 23 1,469,443
University of Miami 318 4 20 117 1,442,697
Miami University 22,616,538 1 - 2 1,412,242
University of Kansas 207,115,000 2 14 81 1,406,616

Source: Association of University Technology Managers

 

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