DuPont has donated a patent and related technical information valued at $6 million to Penn State to encourage the commercial development of compounds to alleviate crop damage caused by mites.
The patent given to Penn State covers a family of compounds useful for control of mites, which are destructive pests in many important agronomic crops. The most active member of the group of included compounds has been shown to control all economically important species of mites in their targeted crops in all key geographic areas.
"Pennsylvania's apple production, ranked fifth in the nation, requires the expenditure of about $2.5 million yearly on controlling mites, and recently introduced mites that parasitize honeybees have greatly impacted the availability of honeybees for pollination of crops," said James Frazier, professor and head of the Department of Entomology at Penn State. "In Pennsylvania alone, pollination by honeybees is valued at $60 million annually. These new patented compounds can potentially help Pennsylvania agriculture in both of these arenas, and we will be actively seeking a partner to facilitate their development and registration for use here as well as abroad."
In an announcement made Feb. 8 from the company's Wilmington, Del., headquarters, DuPont officials said that the donation to Penn State is part of the largest philanthropic contribution in DuPont's history. When the Penn State portion is combined with patents for other processes donated to the University of Iowa and to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the total value of the contribution is $64 million.
According to DuPont, the three universities were chosen for their expertise in the technologies related to the patents, their ability to take the research further and their demonstrated interest in the patents.
The University of Iowa received patent rights to biotransformation processes valued at $35 million. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University received patents related to the manufacture of thermoplastic composite sheets worth $23 million.
All values attributed to the patents were determined by independent third parties outside DuPont. In each case, the technology discovered and developed by DuPont was determined to be important, but did not fit strategically into the company's long term business plans.
"Each of these universities is recognized worldwide for their research in the fields of the technology we've donated," said Randolph Guschl, director-DuPont corporate technology transfer. "We're confident that the universities have both the interest and the ability to carry the technology forward. All three donations require additional research and development by the universities before they become commercially viable."
Founded in 1802, DuPont is a global research and technology-based company. DuPont serves worldwide markets including food and nutrition; health care; agriculture; fashion and apparel; home and construction; electronics; and transportation. The company operates in about 70 countries and has 83,000 employees.
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