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Research improves Missourians' lives; technology generates income


Posted: February 19, 2009

COLUMBIA, MO -- Even in the midst of the recession, scientists at the University of Missouri continue to attract record levels of grant money for externally sponsored, life-saving research. Simultaneously, others are producing new technology for the marketplace, providing an economic stimulus to the state while improving the lives of its citizens.


Rob Duncan

From July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008, research grants and contracts revenue coming to MU from external sources was more than $203 million, exceeding $200 million for the first time in the history of the institution. As of the end of December, 2008, research expenditures, or money spent conducting research, are up by 3.8 percent over this time last year.

“Most of this money comes to Missouri from outside the state,” said Rob Duncan, vice chancellor for research. “The money is not coming from tuition or state taxes. However, the money is spent within the state -- purchasing supplies, hiring research assistants, etc. – to help bolster Missouri’s economy.”

Mizzou researchers also have generated more than $21 million in revenues during the past five years from the top five technology licenses. Last year, Mizzou spent $1.4 million to generate $6.2 million in gross licensing income on intellectual property, generating a 4-to-1 return on investment in MU researchers’ intellectual property.

“A vital economy – one that includes well-paying jobs, tax revenue to support roads, bridges, social services, etc. – depends on strong businesses,” MU Provost Brian Foster said. “Strong businesses in today’s environment require strong innovation in many fields, e.g., high-tech industries, agriculture, and medical care. Universities’ research is a major source of such innovation.”

MU’s Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations (OTMIR) staff identify and market commercially viable intellectual property developed at MU. Staff evaluate new technologies, obtain patent protection when needed, identify licensees and negotiate all intellectual property agreements. All profits on such inventions are divided among the inventor, the university and the inventor’s college or school.

During the last fiscal year, MU’s OTMIR processed 78 invention disclosures. The inventions get to the market in a variety of ways, including licensing the invention to existing companies, using it as the basis for starting new companies, or actually developing the innovation in collaboration with companies. MU’s goal is to process 100 invention disclosures in fiscal year 2009.

“This broad range of ‘tech transfer’ activities is critical to the viability of our economy,” Foster said.


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