Purdue University’s Million Dollar Kill.

Purdue University’s Million Dollar Kill. 

A while back I shared some thoughts on express licensing.  And I heard back from quite a few of you… there seem to be a LOT of opinions out there on this topic.

Let’s look at a real life example of express licensing in action. Your opinion might change after reading this article.

Purdue has become a powerhouse for producing start-ups (hint: partially involving express licensing), and quickly increased its rankings on national surveys relating to performance in technology transfer.

Highlights of the game plan

*Commercialization accelerator program: the Foundry was designed to train innovators to take ideas to market.

* Purdue Ventures: founded in 2015 oversees three funds ranging from $2-12M.  Purdue Ventures also sources talent and mentors for these startups with a focus on Purdue alumni with compatible skills.

* Express License: Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization implemented an express license (since 2014) which is simple and transparent, and offers participants a more cost efficient fast track to transfer a technology to market.

* Trask Innovation Fund: offers grant money to (very) early stage company ideas.

*Creating a culture of entrepreneurship.

What Is Purdue Doing That Other Universities Shouldn’t Ignore?

All of this ^ seems to be working.

In the past three years Purdue’s invention disclosures have climbed 15 percent, while patents and licensing deals have increased from 65 percent and 55 percent.*

One interesting thing to note is that while licensing deals have increased, licensing revenue is down 25 percent over that time (from $8M to $6M).  This suggests that the payoff on licensing deals is not as high is as it used to be.  It also suggests that Purdue is honing in on that sweet spot between licensing revenue and startup creation, the latter which can take several years to mature and start producing revenue streams.

Based on 2015 data, Purdue ranked 6th in the country for creation of 25 startups that year (up from 15th place for 6 new startups in 2005).  Purdue is making itself a hotbed of entrepreneurship to lure top researchers and students looking to make a difference.  AUTM data has also shown over time that most startups built on academic IP remain in (the same) state.

Perhaps most importantly, the underlying trend we are seeing is that top performing universities (like Purdue) are breaking down barriers to actively work with investors, companies, and entrepreneurs.  Together, they are connecting research, talent and sources of funding to create commercially viable opportunities and to unlock the potential of university research for economic development.

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