2009 was a tough year for U.S. technology transfer programs, which saw licensing income drop 32 percent, according to a survey published by trade group the Association of University Technology Managers.
The 181 tech transfer programs that responded to the survey reported a combined $2.3 billion in income.
AUTM blamed the year-over-year decline on the economic downturn and a lack of large, one-time payments to tech transfer programs. For example, 2009 leader Northwestern University’s income fell to $161 million from $942 million in 2008 as one-time payments dropped.
Technology transfer is the process of developing and commercializing technologies typically discovered through scientific research. It’s usually the domain of universities, but hospitals, such as Cleveland Clinic and Children’s Hospital, Boston, have gotten into the act as well.
Companies that receive commercialization rights to a technology usually pay the owner of the intellectual property (a university or hospital) in upfront license fees, royalty payments, and sometimes equity in the resulting venture.
The 181 U.S. respondents included 153 universities, 27 hospitals and research institutions, and one third-party patent management and investment firm.
Here are the top 15 technology transfer programs included in the AUTM survey, ranked by 2009 licensing income:
- Northwestern University, $161 million
- Columbia University, $154 million
- New York University, $113 million
- University of California System, $103 million
- Wake Forest University, $96 million
- University of Minnesota, $95 million
- University of Washington/Washington Research Foundation, $87 million
- University of Massachusetts, $71 million
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, $66 million
- Stanford University, $64 million
- University of Wisconsin at Madison, $57 million
- University of Florida, $54 million
- California Institute of Technology, $48 million
- University of Rochester, $46 million
- University of Iowa Research Foundation, $43 million