UMass system ranked 14th in intellectual property income

The University system ranked 14th among American universities with $19.7 million in licensing income in fiscal year 2003, according to a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education using information from an Association of University Technology Managers survey.

The figure is a significant increase from the $14.9 million in revenue in FY 02, allowing UMass to move from its previous position of 17th place, and to jump ahead of all New England institutions except the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in income derived from licensing intellectual property including biomedical, computer and analytical technologies.

“It is very gratifying to see the University of Massachusetts take its place alongside the very best universities in the nation in this critical and highly competitive arena,” President Jack M. Wilson said. “Our success indicates that UMass innovation and technology is held in high regard. The income the University earns is reinvested in education and research programs and thus fuels our quest to provide the citizens of the Commonwealth with a public university of unsurpassed excellence.”

Wilson added, “The University’s growth in this area is dramatic, given that our licensing income was in the range of $300,000 less than a decade ago. This growth would not have been possible without sound leadership on all five campuses, without an energetic and entrepreneurial faculty, and without determined efforts at the system level and the strong support of our Board of Trustees.”

According to the Office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property (CVIP), highlights for the year 2003 include:

Proactive licensing of proprietary gene silencing, or RNAi technology developed in a joint venture between UMass Medical School and the Carnegie Institute of Washington, that suggests researchers may one day be able to isolate the particular genes for an ailment and neutralize, or “silence” it technologically. A fourth-quarter transaction included a license to CytRx of California, which included shares of company stock, significant funds to be directed toward sponsored research, payments and royalties on future product sales and commitment to a Massachusetts- based startup. CytRx is currently devoting its research toward drugs for HIV, type II diabetes and other diseases.

Licensing of UMass Amherst-developed cloning technologies to Advance Cell Technologies of Worcester and Hematech of North Dakota. Revenue from these licenses helped push UMass Amherst’s 2003 totals to more than $1 million—a milestone for the campus.

Significant and continued income—in the range of $14 million—from existing licensing agreements, including MedImmune of Maryland on sales of a monoclonal antibody vaccine against RSV; Hybridon of Cambridge for anti-sense technology; and Sepracor of Marlboro on sales of Clarinex, an antihistamine.

Revenues from technology licenses developed by research at UMass Lowell, including one that led to the formation of Konarka, the leading researcher in the field of third-generation solar cells.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Dec. 3 report, colleges and universities in the 2003 fiscal year filed for more patents and signed a record number of licenses with companies seeking to convert academic enterprise into entrepreneurial cash.

During that year, UMass executed 40 licenses and options stemming from research initiatives. In addition, 121 U.S. patents were filed—resulting in 18 patents issued—and one new startup company was formed.

Improved performance in generating intellectual property income has been a University priority over the past decade. In 1994, CVIP was established with the goal of encouraging and assisting faculty in developing innovative technologies and managing the commercialization process.

While the Chronicle of Higher Education uses 2003 data for its rankings, UMass continued its growth in this area in 2004, and CVIP has reported a record $26.5 million in license revenue, with a record number of U.S. patent applications filed.