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AUTM Releases Preliminary Data From Its 2013 Licensing Survey

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Greetings from D.C. In 2013, university tech transfer accounted for 5,198 licenses executed (496 containing equity positions); 1,356 options executed; 14,995 new patent applications filed (with 5,714 U.S. patents issued); and 818 startup companies formed. This was accomplished against the backdrop of flat or slightly decreasing federally funded university research expenditures (approximately $40 billion, down 0.7 percent) and increasing industry-sponsored academic research expenditures (approximately$4.5 billion, up 11 percent).

These statistics are provided in the just-released preliminary highlights of the 2013 Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) university licensing survey (full results to be published in the near future). As noted, the increases in patents filed and issued, startups, and commercial products developed were offset slightly by the recognition that federal funding for university research was down—leading to universities exploring ways of “expanding their relationships with industry collaborators.” Total research expenditures increased 2.3 percent to over $65 billion.

AUTM has continued to expand and revise the metrics it collects in order to present the most accurate and informed data on the economic and other impacts of its members’ tech transfer efforts. For example, in the area of university-based startups, AUTM has been collecting detailed data on nearly one-third of the approximately 8,500 startups reported over the years of this survey. In addition to the 2013 statistics in this area—818 startups formed, with 611 having their primary place of business in the licensing institution’s home state—they can also cite that 4,206 startups are still operating in 2013, with $22.8 billion in associated net product sales. Further, 719 new commercial products were created in 2013 by companies licensing university technologies.

Like all such surveys, the annual AUTM licensing survey can’t capture all of the tech transfer activities conducted by U.S. universities, but it typically has a strong response from its membership. In 2013, out of 299 institutions surveyed, 232 universities and colleges, 61 hospitals and research institutions, 3 national labs and 3 third-party technology investment firms responded. Not all respondents report on all statistics, however; and, as AUTM President Jane Muir noted in the article regarding the startup data, “[I]t is important to note here that only 70 institutions reported this startup company data, against a total population of approximately 300 institutions. Most tech transfer offices do not have the resources to track this data, so these numbers are grossly under-representative of the true impact of technology transfer on job creation.”

Finally, putting a human face on the statistics, AUTM includes some impressive examples of how university tech transfer helps to create “a better world.” These range from a cancer treatment, allergy medications, drugs to reduce epileptic seizures and the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia to clean energy battery solutions, methods for de-icing pavements and improving canine capacities to sniff out explosives. As we all know, the stats tell only part of the picture in tech transfer (whether university-based or coming from federal labs). The economic and societal impacts bring those stats to life.

For more information, read the AUTM brief.

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