State Intercom......January 25, 2001
Technology transfer initiatives
meeting with broad success
By Barbara Hale
The University is moving forward with vigorous and innovative approaches to technology transfer, the process whereby the University's creative and scholarly work is put to public use and/or commercial application, Eva J. Pell, vice president for research, told the Board of Trustees on Jan. 19.
These technology transfer efforts are being met by broad financial and educational success. For example, the patenting and licensing of University creative and scholarly products or "intellectual property," is one of the more focused mechanisms for transferring this knowledge. In 2000, Penn State licensing revenues from intellectual property totaled $1,796,781.
In 1999, the most recent year for which rankings are available, the University was ranked 16th in the United States in an Association of University Technology Managers survey of the number of patents issued.
"Universities are major sources of the new knowledge that underlies novel commercial concepts, products and processes," Pell said. "The speed and efficiency with which university-based knowledge is transferred to industry is an increasingly important aspect of the competitiveness of technology-intensive U.S. firms and of the economy as a whole," she said.
Examples of the University's top royalty producing technologies include:
* "transformed stress direction acoustic transducer," invented by Robert Newnham, Shoko Yoshikawa and Qi-Chang Xu and licensed to Input/Output Inc.;
* "bending beam creep test device," invented by David Anderson and licensed to Cannon Instrument Co.;
* "microwave sintering of tungsten carbide," invented by Rustum Roy, Dinesh Agrawal, Jiping Cheng, Mahlon Dennis and Paul Gigl and licensed to Dennis Tool Co.; and
* "pelletized mulch," invented by George Hamilton and licensed to Lebanon Chemical Co.
To date, the Penn State Research Foundation (PSRF), which manages Penn State Intellectual Property, has received more than $900,000 in revenue from these inventions.
Pell also described three inventions or sets of inventions that are in the process of being commercialized:
* A year ago, three agricultural technologies, a genetic marker for boar taint, a technique for artificially inseminating ruminants and a poultry feed supplement were bundled to form a start-up company, EIEICO, by private investors. Since that contract was signed, two exclusive sublicensing agreements have been signed with large agricultural industries, a $365,702 research contract has been undertaken at the University and a research laboratory has been established in one of the University's incubators.
* Chiral Quest LLC is a start-up company organized by Technology Assessment and Development Inc. to commercialize catalyst technologies developed by Xumu Zhang, professor of chemistry. In payment, PSRF will receive 10 percent equity in Chiral Quest.
* Abiomed, a corporate leader in medical equipment, has acquired exclusive rights to the Penn State Heart and will have access to future advances in related implantable replacement heart technology generated by the University's research and development team. In payment, PSRF received 60,000 shares of Abiomed stock currently worth about $1.3 million.
In addition, patents are pending for intellectual property that shows promise for commercialization. These include:
* coating technology for implantable medical devices, such as stents, to prevent reclosure of blood vessels after angioplasty, invented by Dr. Mark Kestor, College of Medicine;
* wireless communication approaches to be used when radio frequencies aren't appropriate, invented by Mohsen Kavehrad, College of Engineering; and
* refrigeration technology that uses sound waves, invented by Steven Garrett, Applied Research Laboratory.
For the year 2000, the Intellectual Property Office filed 102 full U.S. patent applications and 44 patents were issued, bringing the total patents to 223.
However, the patenting of intellectual property and the resulting financial returns aren't the only benefits of the technology transfer enterprise.
Students at every level have been engaged to assist in the effort and receive "real world" experience in the commercialization process.
"The fruits of our labors will lead to support for research and education, economic development in the Commonwealth and intrinsic value achieved by the realization of these technologies," said Pell.