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University 2010 Start-Ups, Patents Rise; Licensing Stalls

Abacus (Anssi Koskinen/Flickr)The number of start-up companies and U.S. patents applied for and issued based on research at American universities gained in 2010 compared to 2009, according to the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), an organization of technology transfer specialists. However, the licensing of those findings and creation of new products leveled off or fell in 2010, compared to the previous year.

AUTM reports in its annual survey that in the 2010 fiscal year, 651 new companies based on findings from academic studies started up at universities — including research institutes and hospitals — an increase of nine percent over 2009. Nearly 500 of those 651 new enterprises were formed in the same state as the institution, a gain of 14 percent compared to 2009. Also, more than 3,600 start-up companies formed at university campuses were still in business in 2010, a seven percent jump from 2009.

The number of U.S. patents issued to universities in 2010 rose a healthy 31 percent to nearly 4,500. The 12,281 new U.S. patent applications, however, represents a more modest 1.4 percent gain over the previous year. And the number of offshore patent applications dropped by more than 15 percent to 1,116.

Getting university research into the marketplace in 2010 proved to be more of a struggle for the institutions. The 657 new commercial products in 2010 based on academic research was almost identical to 2009. And the income to universities from licensing rose somewhat, from $2.3 billion in 2009 to $2.4 billion in 2010. However, the number of licenses of technology to enterprises based on university research dropped nearly 20 percent, from more than 5,300 in 2009 to less than 4,300 in 2010.

The 2010 AUTM survey had 183 responding institutions of the 307 survey recipients, a response rate of 60 percent. The 2009 survey had 181 respondents, for a response rate of 57 percent.

Read more: Survey: University Startups, Products Keep Pace in 2009

Photo: Anssi Koskinen/Flickr

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