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NJ tax case could have dire consequences for tech transfer


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

A lawsuit in the Tax Court of New Jersey could throw a very large wrench into university-based technology transfer operations. The suit, against Princeton University, says its technology commercialization operations are functionally equivalent to a for-profit research institute, and that the millions a year it brings in from licensing and then distributes, in part, to faculty inventors should disqualify it from state property tax exemption. Princeton counters that its primary mission remains educational, not profit-focused, and that it’s thus entitled to tax-exemption despite its licensing income and its mandated compliance with the Bayh-Dole Act’s revenue distribution requirements.

The suit has been lingering for some time, but recently has become a more realistic threat not only to TTOs in New Jersey, but across the U.S. Princeton has failed twice in attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed, and now the court is weighing its latest attempt — which says the plaintiffs, residents of Princeton who case the court can address. The court’s ruling on that motion is due in mid-January — and tech transfer offices may not like the result. The judge overseeing the case — the one who just refused to dismiss it — said in so doing that “there’s a lot riding on this, not just for this university or for every university in the country, but for non-profits as a whole.” The case, the judge added, “is going to have a very, very deep” impact.

The gist of the case, says plaintiff attorney Bruce I. Afran, is this: “Princeton is engaging in very extensive commercial activity, literally to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars every year, yet it’s claiming a complete property tax exemption. The suit challenges that exemption because Princeton is using much of the campus for commercial activity and because it gives profits out to faculty.”

If Princeton loses its property tax exemption, Afran calculates, it would owe the state about $30 million to $40 million a year minimum — an amount he says would be “a very fair exchange for the right to earn royalties.” An article detailing the claims and counter-arguments being made in the case, and addressing its potential implications for all TTOs, appears in the December issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, CLICK HERE.

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SEC agenda: Don’t count on equity crowdfunding rules until 2016


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released a rulemaking agenda indicating that the long-delayed Title III Equity Crowdfunding rules and the Title IV Regulation A+ rules will not be ready for another year. continue reading »

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Lean Marketing & Digital Media Strategies for University Start-Ups


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

Start-ups coming out of universities often have a distinct disadvantage — and it can be fatal. Despite having incredible technology and brilliant researchers behind them, one core competency is very often sorely lacking: marketing. And no matter how outstanding the technology, if no one knows about it or it is cloaked in the verbiage of academics, its chances of making it in the unforgiving commercial world are slim.

By shoring up this neglected but sorely needed area of spinout management, your companies will drastically improve their ability to attract the investors, partners and customers they need. Even with the typical shortage of cash most start-ups must deal with, you need to get the word out – and you can, without a big cash commitment. To show you how, Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division is producing this how-to webinar – scheduled for January 6, 2015 — packed with actionable takeaways and led by two national experts in start-up company creation, product sales and marketing: Lean Marketing & Digital Media Strategies for University Start-Ups. Our faculty will teach you and your team how to inject lean methodology into marketing plans and strategies — so your university’s start-ups can get vital exposure without breaking the bank. For complete details and to register, CLICK HERE.

PLUS: CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR 2015 LINE-UP OF WEBINAR TOPICS AND LEARN ABOUT THE TOTAL ACCESS PASS – YOU CAN DRAMATICALLY EXPAND YOUR STAFF TRAINING AND GAIN ACCESS TO MORE THAN 250 LIVE AND ARCHIVED DISTANCE LEARNING PROGRAMS – FOR ONE AFFORDABLE SUBSCRIPTION FEE!

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Johns Hopkins licenses technology to improve IVF success rates


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

Good Start Genetics, a molecular genetic information company, has licensed a Johns Hopkins University (JHU) technology that could increase the rate of successful pregnancies resulting from in vitro fertilization. continue reading »

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Trade secrets becoming a more viable alternative to patents


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

In his recent blog post for IP Watchdog, patent attorney Peter J. Toren concludes that, in the face of recent decision against patent owners in court, inventors should consider alternatives to patents deciding how to best protect their IP. continue reading »

Licensing Trade Secrets: Overview and Sample Agreements ~ This comprehensive and authoritative source will help ensure that you receive the optimum value for your trade secrets. Click here to order >>

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North Dakota State licenses soil-monitoring technology to boost crop yields


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

Researchers at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo have developed a technology that could help farmers get greater yields by monitoring soil and crop conditions. Licensed to c2sensor corp., a start-up based at the NDSU Technology Incubator, the innovation provides precise in-the-ground measurements using sensors printed directly onto renewable, bio-based substrates. The sensors are made with biocomposites, meaning they can be left in the ground to biodegrade without harming soil quality. continue reading »

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U of Florida technology aims to improve mental health care through online treatment


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

The Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research (the Institute) has finalized a funding agreement with TAO Connect, a Gainesville-based company that provides an online program to treat anxiety and other related disorders. continue reading »

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Just released: Survey of Sponsored Research Agreements


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

The all-new Survey of Sponsored Research Agreements between the Private Sector and Higher Education includes data, in-depth commentary, and analysis based on extensive survey results from 19 offices of sponsored research, largely from major universities in the United States and Canada. This one-of-a-kind resource provides a rich set of benchmarks and data to compare against your own sponsored research activity. It’s jam-packed with more than 125 easy to scan charts and figures displaying critical data you can’t find in any other publication. For complete details, a table of conteants, and to order, CLICK HERE >>

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U of Kansas partners with entrepreneurship program to boost start-ups on campus


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

The University of Kansas (KU) and Pipeline, a leading entrepreneurship program, are partnering to accelerate more KU innovations to the marketplace through the creation of university-based start-ups. continue reading »

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Comings and goings


By David Schwartz
Published: December 17th, 2014

• Florida State University (FSU) has appointed Brent Edington, the school’s director of tech transfer, to serve as interim executive director of the Office of Commercialization. Edington will assume his role at the end of December, following the recently announced retirement of the Office’s founder John Fraser. Under the leadership of Fraser – a renowned tech transfer veteran and former AUTM president — the university saw 195 license deals for faculty inventions and over 40 FSU-based start-ups. “John has been a great asset to FSU’s research enterprise, building a successful commercialization effort that has seen significant growth over the years,” says Edington. “Most recently, the work of John and his team helped to make FSU one of only two pre-eminent universities in Florida, a designation that not only elevates our status as a top research institution but also gives us access to additional state funding.”

Edington will oversee FSU’s commercialization partnerships with industry and outside organizations. He will also help the Office of Commercialization manage grant programs, patent and licensing activities, and programs to support university start-ups. With experience both in the private biotech sector and in tech transfer at other research institutions, Edington is an excellent fit for the job, according to FSU Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander. “Brent has the perfect mix of private and public expertise, industry contacts and business acumen to lead FSU’s commercialization efforts as we consider the next phase of growth for this important area of the university,” Ostrander comments.

Source: WCTV

• Indiana University (IU) at Bloomington has appointed biotech expert Keith R. Davis to serve as the first director of its Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship in Biotechnology. Davis has experience both in academia through various roles including former director of the Plant Biotechnology Center at Ohio State University, and in business as former vice president of a multimillion dollar biotech company. “Keith Davis values the culture of translational research and understands how to implement the processes necessary to enhance interactions with industry partners and, in turn, the establishment of new companies,” says Larry Singell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at IU-Bloomington. “In this new position,” adds Singell, “Keith will ensure faculty are able to focus on their core strengths in basic research while collaborating with them to identify new opportunities for intellectual property development and commercialization.”

Source: IUB Newsroom

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UCLA establishes outside non-profit affiliate to oversee tech transfer


By David Schwartz
Published: December 10th, 2014

Universities and their TTOs have always been interested in seeking new avenues to improve commercialization and related operations, and in recent months that desire seems to have often involved third-party organizations, either entirely independent of the university or new groups established by the universities themselves. Now comes the announcement that UCLA has launched Westwood Technology Transfer, a separate non-profit that will have a big say in the direction of tech transfer and the investments made in specific IP.

WTT is headed by a 10-member board comprised of experts in a variety of fields, including biopharmaceuticals, engineering and technology, finance, private equity, and venture capital, as well as UCLA faculty. The linkage between WTT and the UCLA Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Sponsored Research (OIP-ISR) will be coordinated by Brendan Rauw as President and CEO of WTT and Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of Entrepreneurship at OIP-ISR.

“WTT is a board with fiduciary responsibility and authority,” says Ruaw. “It will set budgets, priorities, strategies, but it will operate for the most part at a level of guidance and strategic advice. What it will not do is take over operational authority for the organization.”

Still, he continues, the board has full decision-making authority. “OIP reports to the board and will be held accountable to the board for everything — that includes sponsored research,” says Rauw. “They will review and recommend our budgets, although ultimately we are still funded out of university funds, so they can’t unilaterally increase our budget without campus approval.”

And while it is true that WTT will direct the tech transfer operations, “we do close to 2,000 agreements a year,” Rauw notes. “These are 10 extremely busy individuals. I can’t read 2,000 agreements a year; I can’t imagine they can either.”

There may be specific situations, he notes, in which board member are asked to get involved due to specific domain knowledge. “That’s what they do; they guide us on those exact issues,” Rauw explains. “But the practical reality is they will not be out negotiating agreements without coming to our office. That’s part of my role – determining which issues need be elevated to the board.”

Nonetheless, Rauw concedes, “in the end they have the ultimate decision over what we do and do not pursue — like selecting technologies with the highest promise. What I imagine is that the board will set the parameters for our patent strategy, and how we want to approach investments in our technology. There may be individual technologies, because of their nature or potential value, the board would be engaged in. But we had 490 disclosures last year; they are not going to review each one.” A detailed article on UCLA’s new outside board appears in the  November issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the complete article, along with the publication’s complete archive filled with hundreds of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

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Don’t miss tomorrow’s webinar on CRM systems for TTOs


By David Schwartz
Published: December 10th, 2014

If your TTO is looking for a CRM system, making the right choice can seem like walking through a maze of options, with each turn leading to more questions than answers. Perhaps even more challenging is what happens after the system is installed. Without expert guidance and a clear plan of attack, the full functionality and optimal benefits garnered from a CRM may simply never materialize.

That’s why Technology Transfer Tactics has recruited three experts in the field to share their experiences, lessons learned, and specific advice that will save you hours of staff time and clarify what criteria should guide your CRM decision. And beyond that, they will provide valuable guidance to both CRM seekers and current CRM users on how to extract the most value from your system.

Join us TOMORROW, December 11 for this practical webinar filled with real-world guidance: Best Practices for Choosing and Using a CRM System for Your Tech Transfer Office. For complete program and faculty details or to register, CLICK HERE. It’s not too late to enroll, but you must act now!

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