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Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2013

Editorial: Patent success

Kansas University is showing great progress in turning university research into commercial success.

November 24, 2013

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The annual report of Kansas University’s Innovation and Collaboration unit shares some very tangible examples of how research accomplishments pay off for KU and the state of Kansas.

According to the report, the number of patents and licensing agreements granted to KU are seeing a sharp upswing. In fiscal year 2013, KU filed for 143 patents based on university research and received 37. That’s more than double the patents KU received the previous year. In addition, the university entered into 78 licensing agreements to sell its technology to various companies. The number of licensing agreements has seen a rapid increase in recent years, going from 60 in 2011 to 65 in 2012. In 2012, KU research at all campuses exceeded $275 million, a new record for the university.

These figures were released earlier this month along with an announcement that KU had been accepted as a member of the National Academy of Inventors, a nonprofit group created to recognize and encourage inventors and patents. KU was one of several universities admitted to the academy this year.

KU officials say it takes at least $20,000 to turn a research product into a patent, but the university derives ongoing benefit from patents. As at most other major research universities, KU faculty give the university rights for any invention they make in the course of their research. If the invention receives a patent and becomes licensed for commercial use, the revenue it earns is split three ways among the faculty member, his or her department and KU.

The university made almost $12 million from licensing agreements in the last fiscal year, up from less than $2 million in 2011.

Not all research done at KU has direct commercial potential for the university and its researchers. (Pharmacy, medicine and engineering schools are the biggest players.) That doesn’t mean that research being done in the humanities and other university departments isn’t valuable, but research that feeds commercial ventures and raises revenue for KU vividly illustrates a major benefit the state derives from the work being done at its largest university.

Congratulations to KU officials for their notable progress in turning university research into commercial success. Their efforts reflect credit on the university and the state.

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