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Universities in MN, WA Post Impressive Gains in Spinoffs

August 21, 2013

A recent report by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) dubbed American universities the “unsung heroes in the economic recovery.” Through licensing and startup activity, universities and other groups earned more than $2.6 billion total income from royalties and other sources in FY12 alone, according to the report highlights. Research universities often garner more attention for their role in product and company development. Such is the case at the University of Washington and University of Minnesota, where officials posted a record number of spinoffs from university technology over the past year.

At the University of Washington, officials announced 17 startups were formed in the past fiscal year based on university technology – the school’s most productive year for startup formation. The pace is faster than expected with nearly double the amount of companies created on average in each of the previous five years.

University of Minnesota technologies were used to launch 12 startup companies in FY13, breaking the university’s previous record of nine. Over a seven-year period, 52 companies have been created under the Office for Technology Commercialization’s Venture Center, with a success rate of nearly 80 percent, according to a university press release.

For other schools lacking the status of a top-tier research institution, recognizing the university as an economic driver is crucial. The University of Montana (UM) is working to expand its research into areas that generate more return for the region, such as renewable energy and pharmaceuticals. A new Proposal Development Office also was established to help with external research funding, reports Missoulian. The university also is making strides in translating research and technologies into viable businesses. Earlier this year, UM was the recipient of a $2 million grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to introduce entrepreneurship as a career option and help students launch companies.

While the evidence of universities as key drivers in the innovation economy often is staggering, knowing what to measure and how best to measure it can be a daunting and challenging task for practitioners. However, in order to build institutions that live up to their potential as economic powerhouses, universities must find ways to assess their effectiveness in commercializing new technologies, launching new businesses and industries and engaging in the regional economy.

Learn More at SSTI's 17th Annual Conference!

Our panel of experts will guide an in-depth session examining how universities help drive the innovation economy and how to translate that impact into accurate, actionable metrics in the session. Louise Davidson of UC Berkeley and David Winwood of UAB Research Foundation will join moderator Marnie LaVigne of the University at Buffalo to discuss how to design, collect and apply metrics that can continually improve university impact. Register today!

Minnesota, Washingtonhigher ed, commercialization