Marketing MU Discoveries for Public Good
Marketing MU Discoveries for the Public Good
The MU research laboratory is a unique environment, an exciting place where each day some of the nation's most creative minds work through a myriad of complex scientific questions. Often this work results in important discoveries that are developed into products for the marketplace where, at their best, they can help millions of Americans lead healthier, happier lives.
The Office of Technology & Special Projects at MU works at the interface of this discovery, development and commercialization continuum.
First, the OTSP receives invention disclosures from faculty, staff and student inventors. The OTSP then evaluates these disclosures to determine whether they represent a patentable invention that has commercial potential. When a disclosure meets the two criteria of patentablility and commercial potential, technology and special projects staff members work with the inventor(s) and an outside patent attorney to obtain a patent for the invention. Finally, the OTSP works to commercialize the invention, usually by licensing the patent rights to company in exchange for royalties on the company's sales. When the technology is sufficiently robust to sustain a new business enterprise, the OTSP will also assist in establishing a start-up company.
Although the previous fiscal year saw a drop in the number of patent applications filed for the MU campus, the number of patent applications pending rose to a record level in FY 2003. Active licenses generated at the University were responsible for more than $8.4 million in royalty income over the past three years -- more than double the income of the previous three-year period. With a more substantial patent portfolio, licenses and licensing income are expected to increase substantially in future years.
OTSP remains committed to establishing a "technology business incubator" that will nurture start-up companies during their early, most vulnerable, years. In addition, in FY04 we will establish a fund to develop new technologies to the point at which they become attractive to licensees or investors eager to provide capital for a start-up company built around the technology. In short, MU is taking a more aggressive and entrepreneurial approach to commercializing the discoveries of its researchers. By contributing in this way to the public good, the inventors and the University will benefit as well.