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Universities Spawn More Startups

Despite the down economy, universities are ramping up their efforts to commercialize their research.

By | November 2, 2011

A biotech building in Cambridge, MAFLICKR, AMATERN

Universities filed more patents, created more startups, and licensed more technologies in fiscal year 2010 than in prior years, according to a survey conducted by the Association of University Technology Managers.

For the 150 institutions that replied, earnings from licensing deals and related ventures remained roughly flat at $1.8 billion last year. But patents increased markedly, jumping from 3,088 in FY2009 to 4,109 in FY2010, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. The number of startups based on university technology also increased, from 555 to 613.

Many university-based startup companies face an uphill battle because they are based on early-stage technology that may not be particularly attractive investment opportunities for venture capitalists until the ideas are further developed. But some universities are working to fill that gap by creating their own commercialization funds or providing resources to finance experiments or prototypes that don’t typically have a place in academic labs, The Chronicle reported.

The top universities for commercialization were Northwestern University, which earned $180 million in revenue; New York University, which earned $178 million; and Columbia, which took in $147.2 million.

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