Technology & Special Projects Office: A Resources for Faculty Innovators and Entrepreneurs
Each day in the classrooms and research laboratories of the University of Missouri-Columbia, creative minds pursue answers to some of the world's most important scientific questions. Often this work results in discoveries that, when developed into applications for the marketplace, can contribute a great deal to the public good.
The Office of Technology & Special Projects (OTSP) works at the interface of the discovery, development and commercialization processes. First, the OTSP receives invention disclosures from faculty, staff and student inventors. The OTSP evaluates these disclosures to determine whether they represent patentable inventions that have commercial potential. When a disclosure meets the two criteria of patentability and commercial potential, a patenting and licensing professional in the OTSP works with the inventor(s) and an outside patent attorney to obtain a patent for the invention. Finally, the OTSP helps to commercialize the invention, usually by licensing the patent rights to a 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 our inventor-entrepreneurs in establishing a start-up company.
OTSP's efforts are already paying big dividends for the University and its faculty researchers. FY 2005 saw another increase in the number of patent applications filed for the MU campus, while the number of patent applications pending reached a record level. Income from active licenses in FY 05 far exceeded the projection of $7 million made in last year's report, reaching a level just short of $9 million, an all-time high. In addition, the healthy growth of MU's already substantial patent portfolio will continue to boost both the University's licenses -- and its licensing income -- for years to come. Current projections, for example, show that we are again likely to receive licensing income at record levels beginning in the FY 2007.
As noted in the story here, OTSP and its funding partners are continuing to make progress toward establishing a life sciences technology business incubator. To be located adjacent to the MU Research Reactor, the incubator will nurture start-up companies during their early, most vulnerable, years. In addition, the OTSP has recently reorganized the office into intellectual property management and entrepreneurial support divisions, a move that will streamline its ability to serve both faculty inventors and those working to bring their discoveries to market.
As part of this process, OTSP has also implement a new database management system that has allowed us to streamline MU's intellectual property management operations. The end result? Even more responsive service for the University's world-class innovators and entrepreneurs.