Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Research Universities -- the Evolving Economic Engines

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Research Universities -- the Evolving Economic Engines

Article excerpt

Forty billion dollars is a lot of money. This impressive amount of capital is the total level of economic activity created in the United States from the commercialization of academic research. A survey of 139 top research universities and teaching hospitals by the Association of University Technology Managers found:

* 417 new products resulting from academic licenses were made commercially available to the public in 1999.

* More than 340 new companies based on an academic discovery were formed in 1999, with 82 percent of them operating in the academic institution's home state.

* In 1999 alone, more than 3,900 new licenses were signed with businesses including 12 percent to start-ups, 50 percent to small businesses, and 38 percent to large companies.

* More than 12,000 new discoveries were disclosed in 1999; 5,545 new U.S. patent applications were filed; and 3,661 U.S. patents were issued in 1999 to the participating academic institutions.

* The resulting economic activity supported 270,000 jobs.

The role of universities in our economy is increasingly apparent as the United States progresses into a new economy. Advancements in optics, materials, biotechnology and communications are reshaping our world. Research universities' role as economic engines is well documented. The level of research achievement in a community is directly related to economic development and quality jobs.

Aside from the thousands of high-performance jobs that research institutions support, a total research investment of $26.8 billion in 1999 resulted in one new spin-out company for each $75 million of research. One patent and license came from each $7 million. This is icing on the cake considering economic development is not the primary objective of research institutions.

Important legislation passed in 1980 led to exponential growth in academic patent activity. In 1976, U.S. universities were granted 276 patents compared to more than 3,600 last year. Universities now have annual royalty revenues approaching $1 billion per year. With the acceleration of advancements being made in biotechnology, molecular manufacturing and other fields, the rate of growth and importance of university-based intellectual capital will elevate academia's economic importance accordingly. …

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