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The changing face of university technology transfer

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 11th, 2017

In a post on IP Watchdog, DJ Nag, PhD, MBA, CLP, RTTP, Associate Vice President of Technology Commercialization at The Ohio State University, outlines the many changes that have occurred in the field of technology transfer in recent years, and also points to several emerging trends that will continue to bring change.

He notes the rather complete shift from a focus solely on licensing to one that centers more on start-up creation and economic development. At the same time, a higher level of professionals occupy the top roles in university TTOs, putting these execs on more even footing with industry, and leading to more efficient “osmosis” between the corporate and tech transfer worlds.

Another big shift has occurred in the risk appetite among universities, which was once nearly non-existent. Now, many schools are launching their own VC to invest in faculty start-ups, and combining that funding with incubators and accelerators to “become an engine of economic development.” 

What’s coming in the next five years? Nag points to three new strategies that are already gaining advocates and will continue to become more prominent:

  • Monetization is gaining more favor as universities realize that it is not a “troll” move to exercise the TTO’s “fiduciary right, and I would argue obligation, to protect patent rights.” More and more universities “are taking action just like other successful industry examples to protect their patents and bring value back to their stakeholders,” he says, citing recent big-dollar court victories by WARF, Carnegie Mellon, RPI, and The University of Minnesota.
  • Marketplace is another area for growth in the future, Nag predicts, despite numerous unsuccessful attempts in the past to create “an efficient transactional platform to promote a seamless mechanism to transact.” He points out the vast quantities of IP help by research universities that haven’t been commercially exploited – from chemicals, antibodies, mouse models and plant varieties to software, apps, and creative works. “All of these resources could be made available to the public by creating simple but efficient marketplaces.”
  • Crowdfunding is no longer a new concept, but there’s plenty of room for its growth in university-based commercialization, particularly given alumni bases that would make perfect prospects for crowdfunding campaigns. “It is really a no brainer to capitalize that following for taking technologies to market from the universities,” he comments.

Source:  IP Watchdog

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