UA Revamps Tech Transfer Mission

Jason Ott, UA Science and Technology Park
Oct. 2, 2001

Taking patentable ideas and technology from University of Arizona classrooms and laboratories to the marketplace is an important expression of the University's mission of research and education. This process is known as technology transfer and is fast gaining momentum as the University continues to galvanize its entrepreneurial spirit with a dedication to community service.

Technology transfer efforts at the UA are beginning to yield dramatically improved numbers. During fiscal year 2001, the UA Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) more than doubled the amount of income it receives from royalties, an increase of a 126 percent over fiscal year 2000. OTT received $369,000 from royalties and license income in fiscal year 2000 and $834,000 in 2001.

Frank Hartdegen, director of OTT, expects to increase the UA's royalty income an additional 25 percent per year for the next four years. This turnaround in transfer activities is the result of new direction for the office, including increased outreach activities and improved technology transfer infrastructure. The leadership of Richard Powell, UA vice president for research and graduate studies, and recent financial support from the Arizona Department of Commerce have proven instrumental to this development.

"Dick Powell has concentrated the focus of OTT on licensing. The success of this goal-oriented vision is evident in the improved tech transfer activities and income," said Hartdegen.

While UA faculty works towards the creation of knowledge, OTT works to bring the benefit of these discoveries to the public. According to Hartdegen, there are other quantifiable performance measures that indicate that this effort is progressing. For example, patent filings (full and provisional) are up 43 percent, from 40 to 57, and invention disclosures are up 25 percent, from 89 to 111.

"Aside from these numbers," said Hartdegen, "OTT is actively engaging students and members of the faculty and business communities in new ways. Fiscal year 2001 marks the first year that this office worked with MBA students. Twenty-three MBA students were provided an opportunity to write analyses and business plans for disclosed OTT inventions."

OTT also established two advisory panels, the Life Sciences Panel and Physical Sciences Panel, which together are known as the Science Advisory Board (SAB). SAB reviews and assesses the value of proposed technologies and potential applications. The results of these reviews are presented to the UA Technology Review Committee, which is comprised of faculty and industry veterans, for practical advice on how to best bring discoveries to commercialization.

"As the knowledge-based economy continues to grow, so too will OTT's role in helping UA faculty to bring inventions to fruition and in some cases, to create companies. The local community looks to the University as a primary developer of technology and innovation and a driver of the economy. We now have a mechanism that defines success as transferring this technology to commercial use for the public," said Hartdegen.


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