Office of Innovation Management

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Tracking Tech Transfer Progress

For four decades, commentators have observed the development of technology transfer processes and, have analyzed the impact of university-derived technologies on markets. In 1990, Edwin Mansfield (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania) published in hallmark report, “Academic Research and Industrial Innovation.” In that report, Mansfield attempted to estimate the extent to which technological innovations are based on recent (within 15 years) academic research. Mansfield interviewed managers from 76 firms in the following fields; information processing, electrical equipment, chemicals, instruments, pharmaceuticals, metals and old. He found that (of the seven fields studied), the percentage of new pharmaceuticals and the processes to produce these new compounds, were the most dependent on academic research. Mansfield postulated that this phenomenon resulted from the close interaction and communication between academic researchers and their industrial counterparts. Further, Mansfield, stated, “{pharmaceutical industry} … has on obvious interest in the large amounts of medical, biological and pharmaceutical research carried out at universities.” Mansfield estimated that;

  • 27% of drugs and 29% of drug-related processes could not have been developed (without substantial delay) in the absence of recent academic research.
  • In some cases, these sorts of products and processes would have been developed without recent academic research, but at greater expense and delay, these percentages were estimated at 17% of drugs and 8% of processes.

Mansfield’s study is particularly interesting in that it updated findings that Gellman had reported in 1976. At that time, Gellman believed that less than 10% of pharmaceutical products resulted from academic research.

In 1992, the growth of academic technology transfer programs was just beginning to “hit its stride.” During this “golden age” of academic technology transfer, the launch of new programs accelerated and, expectations rose in tandem. Therefore, the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) sought to track the salient tech transfer metrics. The AUTM Annual Licensing Survey has been conducted for two decades; it is the definitive measure of technology transfer across North America.

Today, 183 American institutions (universities and research institutes) report on their technology transfer activities, investments and income. The 2010 Annual Survey U.S. performance metrics are impressive:

  • 20,642 new invention disclosures
  • 12,281 new patent applications
  • $2 billion total income
  • $63 million cashed-in equity

However, those metrics don’t tell the full story. It is important to realize that;

Most institutions execute less than 20 licenses/options per year. Amazingly, 203 university-derived licenses produced more than $1 million in 2010. And, American universities launched 651 new companies during 2010 and, 77% of these startups were located in the institution’s home state.

The UL Lafayette Office of Innovation Management is a modern initiative that transcends traditional transactional IP services. The OIM is designed and, staffed, to produce an adroit technology diffusion force. Flexibility and efficiency are built into the system.

The Office of Innovation Management will focus its partnering efforts on companies who present the proper structural characteristics, competitive intensity and corporate culture. The effort will radiate from the innovation cluster in Lafayette and Louisiana to domestic and international prospective partners.

The Office of Innovation Management is critical to the development of an innovation hub in Lafayette.

The Office of Innovation Management will be the nexus for talent, ideas and finance. We expect that the OIM will make real, tangible differences on campus and, in the community, in the near-term future.