Intellectual Ventures’ Indian Deal Epitomizes Strategy to Support Invention in Asia

3/20/09Follow @gthuang

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that they haven’t really had much opportunity to access as of yet. Finally, it gives their faculty and students access to the many ‘problems needing solutions’ that Patrick and his team work on every day to identify, thereby making the chance that an IIT-B invention will make a global impact a little closer to reality.”

Gibson, who also handles Intellectual Ventures’ marketing and public relations in Asia, shed more light on the significance of the deal as well. “IIT-B is one of roughly 10 schools in India we are now working with. However IIT-B is one of the premier universities in India—one of the original IITs, so it is a little like working with, say, a Harvard or Stanford for us,” he said. “We were excited and proud to make the announcement.” (IIT-Bombay is known for its strengths in electronics, software, chemistry, and materials, among other areas.)

Full financial terms of the partnership weren’t disclosed. But Gibson says, “The arrangement is for the university…to send us invention disclosures from time to time as well as allow us to directly work with professors we have identified to partner on brand new inventions…The arrangement is not exclusive and the university is free to pick and choose which inventions it gives to us and which it doesn’t. [Intellectual Ventures] pays a fee once we decide to actually accept the invention from the university and we pay all associated patenting fees. It is important to note that we are not purchasing these inventions, we are exclusively licensing them—it’s a big difference that allows the university and the inventor to be better recognized for their invention by the companies that eventually license it.”

So how is this a win-win for the firm and foreign universities? Gibson didn’t say specifically how much university inventors stand to gain if their inventions are translated into moneymaking products, but he described the terms this way: “It’s generally a good deal for the university as they don’t have to pay those costs themselves and they get some upfront money out of the deal—which means [Intellectual Ventures] is taking on a certain amount of risk in the expectation that we can and will monetize the invention either by licensing, spinning out a specialized company (like TerraPower [a maker of nuclear reactors]), or partnering with a third party,” Gibson said. “Generally, we also pay the school a piece of the back-end we generate from licensing or other commercialization event—which can be significant in some cases.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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