University Of North Carolina (UNC)’s investment into new technology businesses paid off, last year, with its Office of Innovation Commercialization recording an exceptional growth in licensing revenue. UNC recorded US$ 7.9M from technology licenses – a whopping 160% increase in revenues from commercialization of innovation since its inception in 2009.
UNC received a major boost in revenue from two of its biotechnology start-ups – Epizyme Inc. and Sarepta Therapeutics Inc., that started yielding results in 2013. UNC receives a lump sum when it sells a company. Mr. Andy Johns, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at UNC said, “The path was paved years ago, it’s a one-time shot in the arm, if you will”.
UNC is known to be one of the best in the US in taking intellectual capital to the market. In 2013, in order to recognize and commercialize UNC technology with potential, the Office of Technology Development partnered with UNC’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and Carolina KickStart.
John Sheridan, Assistant Director of Carolina KickStart commented, “I think that the doubling in revenue would not have been possible without the Office of Technology Development’s expertise. They’ve assembled a really strong team that (has) done a great job marketing and licensing UNC technologies”.
It may take companies a few years to bring a promising technology to the market. Jackie Quay, interim Director of Technology Development at UNC is stated as having said that it is unpredictable whether or not an innovation will become a commercial success. He said, “We consider it a success when a technology is developed into a commercial product”.
UNC signed off on 63 different technology licensing agreements in 2013. Since 1997, UNC has 791 granted patents and 857 technology licenses. Additionally, UNC also received licensing revenue of US$ 48.3M, created 91 technology start-ups and brought in US$ 35.7M in patent reimbursements.
In early 2014, UNC started a pilot program to award money to innovators to further analyse the commercialization potential of their innovations in the market as real products. Hoping to attract more researchers, UNC also cut down on overhead charges for two federal grants. UNC wants to further boost its research by putting money, earned from licensing revenue and federal and industry-sponsored funding, back into research.