Companies around the world paid more than $30 million for commercial rights to University of Rochester research during the 2005 fiscal year, according to the latest revenue report published by the Association for University Technology Managers (AUTM). That figure denotes the University as the ninth highest revenue recipient of all higher education institutions in the nation.
The revenue comes as businesses gain interest in the engineering and biotechnology efforts of University scientists. Technology revenue has increased steadily since the University began actively promoting technology transfer more than a decade ago. In 1999, the University earned slightly more than $3 million in revenue, but since 2001 the University has consistently been in the top 10 in university patent licensing revenue.
"It's very helpful to be able to benchmark our licensing success against our peers and be ranked again among the top research universities in the nation," says Gail Norris, director of the College Office of Technology Transfer for the University. "Once a university has achieved this level of revenue, companies and venture capitalists begin to recognize that the University is generating cutting-edge research that has commercial application."
The AUTM survey showed a trend among universities to reap more profits from their research. In total, the academic institutions brought in more than $1 billion in patent revenue for the year. The survey tallied responses from more than 200 colleges and universities.
The most lucrative Rochester patents include the human papillomavirus virus vaccine, the first commercial anti-cancer vaccine; the Hib vaccine, used to prevent meningitis in children around the world; and Prevnar, which prevents several pneumococcal diseases in children. Other top licensed technologies include "Blue Noise Mask," which improves the speed and appearance of digital images, and an adaptive optics system for the eye, a patented technique for unprecedented accuracy in diagnosing aberrations in the eye, widely used in laser refractive eye surgery.
"We're looking forward to our continued growth with the increase our 2005 revenue has shown," says Norris. "We're also focused on optimizing the number of technologies we are able to commercialize for public use even if the resulting licensing revenue isn't substantial. Dollars are not the only measure of the success of a University's translation of its research to public use and benefit."