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Penn State’s Innovative Approaches To Tech Transfer Meeting With Success
January 19, 2001
University Park, Pa. --- Penn State 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, Dr. Eva J. Pell, vice president for research, told the Board of Trustees today (Friday, 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 Penn State 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 noted.

"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 Penn State’s top royalty producing technologies include:

To date, the Penn State Research Foundation (PSRF), which manages Penn State Intellectual Property, has received over $900,000 in revenue from these inventions.

Pell also described three other 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 Penn State’s incubators.

Chiral Quest LLC, is a start-up company organized by Technology Assessment and Development, Inc. to commercialize catalyst technologies developed by Dr. 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.

Pell also gave examples of intellectual property for which patents are pending that show great promise for commercialization. These examples included:

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. Undergraduate students from the Eberly College of Science assist with technical assessments and evaluations of invention disclosures. Interns from the Smeal master’s of business administration program assist with business issues, including the marketability of Penn State inventions. Dickinson Law School interns assist with review and analysis of legal agreements; analysis of inventorship issue; patent searches; assessment of patentability and review of patent law. In the spring, undergraduate students from the Department of English will begin tracking and monitoring key phrases and concepts through multiple drafts of complex and lengthy legal agreements, especially license agreements.

Pell noted, "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."

Contact: Barbara Hale 814-865-9481 or bah@psu.edu by email