U-M Tech Transfer Racks Up Another Record-Breaking Year

The University of Michigan’s technology transfer office says it had another record-breaking year: More inventions, more patents, more licensing revenue, and more startups created than the previous year.

“There’s no one single factor,” says Ken Nisbet, the school’s tech transfer director. “Having a large amount of research translates into a lot of good ideas. Also important is the support we’ve gotten from university leadership—everyone has been very encouraging. And our staff is more creative and doing a better job of getting our ideas out there.”

In its 2013 fiscal year, U-M spent a record $1.3 billion on research, which puts it at the top of the list nationally for research spending by public universities.

According to data collected by U-M, during fiscal year 2014, university researchers reported 439 inventions, up from the 421 reported last year. The tech transfer office also recorded 148 agreements to license technology developed at the university, up from 108 last year; 132 patents, up from 128 last year; and $18.5 million in licensing revenue, up from $14.4 million last year.

During 2014, there were also 14 startups created, bringing the number of businesses launched to 55 over the last five years. Nisbet says more parts of the university are contributing research and technology to take to market, and U-M is also attracting a broader set of industry partners to help commercialize that new technology.

“We’re preparing opportunities better and we have a very engaging staff attempting to make those connections,” Nisbet says. He adds that it’s important to remember that the quality of new startups created is perhaps even more important than the quantity. “I attribute the growth in startups to great new concepts and projects. We’re able to add funding resources to help develop the technology, and we’re enhancing our relationship with venture capitalists both locally and nationally.”

Nisbet also points to the tech transfer office’s venture accelerator, 16,000 square feet of office and lab space also housed at U-M’s North Campus Research Complex. “We set up the venture center concept five years ago, and I think that process produces very high-level startup opportunities,” he says.

Xconomy has covered lots of U-M spinout startups throughout the years. For some recent coverage, check out this story about Court Innovations, or this one about H3D.

The tech transfer office will host an event in the Michigan League Ballroom celebrating university inventions on Oct. 28. Admission is free, but registration is required; click here to register to attend.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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