Companies around the world paid more than $26 million for commercial rights to University of Rochester research during the 2003 fiscal year, according to the latest revenue report published by the Association for University Technology Managers (AUTM). That figure, which denotes the University as the eighth highest revenue recipient in the nation, was surpassed by the latest revenue numbers that showed the University brought in more than $33 million from licensing in 2004. In addition, the report listed the University of Rochester as having the fourth-highest licensing revenue for every dollar of research spending in the nation, behind only New York University, Wake Forest University, and Florida State University.
The revenue has come into the University since July 2003 as businesses gained interest in the engineering and biotechnology efforts of local scientists. Technology revenue has increased steadily since the University began actively promoting technology transfer more than a decade ago. In 1999, University returns were at slightly more than $3 million. 2002 saw a record-breaking return of $42 million as a number of patent issues were settled and brought income to the University. The current numbers, though lower, are well in line with expectations—and while the unusual surge in 2002’s numbers brought the University to sixth in the nation, the current revenue still keeps the University in the top 10 institutions.
“The 2001-02 year was great for us,” says Mark Coburn, director of the Office of Technology Transfer for the University. “It is especially gratifying to be able to benchmark our licensing success and be ranked again among the top research universities in the nation. Once a university has achieved this level of revenue, companies and venture capitalists begin to recognize that the University is ‘licensing- and start-up-company friendly.’ We’re looking forward to our continued growth with the increase our 2004 revenue has shown.”
The AUTM survey showed a trend among universities to reap more profits from their research. In total, the academic institutions brought in nearly $1 billion in patent revenue for the year. The survey tallied responses from more than 200 colleges and universities, including 94 of the 100 institutions that spend the most on research.
The most lucrative patents include the Hib vaccine, used to prevent meningitis in children around the world, and Prevnar, which prevents several pneumococcal diseases in children. Other top licensed technology include “Blue Noise Mask,” which improves the speed and appearance of digital images, and a technique for unprecedented accuracy in diagnosing aberrations in the eye.