Stepping Up to Tackle Tech Transfer

The goal in the Indiana Chamber-led Indiana Vision 2025 plan: Increase the amount of technology transfer from higher education institutions and attain "Top 5" ranking per capita among all states. Learn more about Indiana Vision 2025.

It’s going to take a strong, coordinated effort. Two states are reporting recent advances, according to the State Science & Technology Institute.

New efforts to step up technology transfer at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and the University of Tennessee (UT) have resulted in a record number of invention disclosures over the last year. In both cases, much of the achievement is attribtuted to faculty involvement, including new outreach efforts by the universities and ambitious goals set for the institutions.

In New Mexico, UNM’s technology transfer office, the Science and Technology Corp, reported a record number of new technologies disclosed by faculty, including a 50 percent increase in biomedical or life science breakthroughs. Aggressive attempts to recruit entrepreneurs to develop and market the technology led to 46 marketing licenses acquired by investors in 2012 and seven new start-ups were formed based on UNM inventions, the article states.

To help increase the number of disclosures by facutly, the Science and Technology Corp. is working closely with the UNM Health Sciences Center and providing more support to encourage faculty to develop their technologies. For example, they launched a gap fund awarding small grants to researchers and created the Lobo VentureLab to incubate new companies on campus. Their efforts are credited with helping grow faculty invention disclosures 85 percent since 2004. The Health Sciences Center began holding training sessions to better explain the commercialization process to faculty and to encourage partnerships with entrepreneurs and inventors.

Meanwhile, the University of Tennessee announced that in the fiscal year ending June 30, nine start-up companies were established based on technology developed by faculty — a number that is more than double last year’s total. The UT Research Foundation (UTRF), a nonprofit organization responsible for commercializing and licensing faculty technology, received 141 new invention disclosures in 2012, which is up from 87 in 2011. Officials say the increase is a result of more aggressive goals set for UTRF and a response to challenges from national and state leaders to increase and encourage innovation.