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VU’s technology transfer efforts gain steam

Jul. 24, 2014, 9:27 AM

Vanderbilt University signed 101 licensing agreements with industry partners in fiscal year 2014, nearly 20 more than the record total set last year. Many transactions were in medical diagnostics, health care information technology, pharmaceutics, oncology and biotechnology.

“In my nearly 20-year history in academic technology commercialization, I have not worked anywhere where we even came close to this level of deal flow,” said Alan Bentley, assistant vice chancellor of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Protection in the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization (CTTC).

Alan Bentley

This was accomplished, he said, after the center stopped counting transactions with an expected lifetime earning potential below a certain threshold toward its annual licensing totals.

Some transactions, such as research materials licenses and end-user software licenses, create short-term value. Others, namely patent and software licenses with royalty obligations on product sales, offer opportunity for long-term value creation.

The real benefits of the latter will be realized in 10 years, Bentley said, when technologies licensed in the 2014 fiscal year ending June 30 hit the market.

Recurring revenues generated by these products will be distributed to faculty inventors and their designated schools, departments, centers and institutes, he said. The revenues not only support Vanderbilt’s academic research mission but reward the inventors for their contributions to society.

During the past decade, Vanderbilt researchers and their innovations have helped position the university as a world leader in such areas as biomedical informatics, medical imaging, personalized medicine and drug discovery.

During that period, 474 technology licenses were granted by the University, 1,476 new innovations were disclosed, for example, through patent applications, and more than $92 million in licensing revenue was generated. Six start-up companies based on Vanderbilt inventions were launched in FY2014.

For more details, read the July CTTC e-newsletter, Driving Innovation Forward at

— Noelle Mashburn contributed to this story.

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