UMass ranks high in licensing and patent activity

By Tim Jones

The University of Massachusetts was recently ranked 13th for total licensing income among institutions, according to a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The data, entitled “Licensing Revenue and Patent Activity, 2008 Fiscal Year,” lists the top universities with patent and license revenue, as well the total research revenue spent to date.

According to the data, UMass has raised nearly $36 million in licenses and grants for the fiscal year.

The University has had two start-up companies formed, 35 licenses executed, has 266 total active licenses, 66 new patent applications, 25 U.S. Patents issued, and has spent $435.2 million total on research. 

Northwestern University rests at the top of the list, having generated $824.4 million in total licensing income.

One such company that was formed, Anellotech Inc., which was co-founded by UMass Professor George Huber, is manufacturing a liquid known as “Green Gasoline,” a chemical equivalent of gasoline, though it is cheaper and cleaner.

Anellotech Inc. was founded in November 2009, and current plans are to open a demonstration plant within two years that would employ 25 people. A commercial plant is in the works as well, and could possibly open within five years. 

Huber said he did not initially have intentions of opening a company, but outside sources convinced him to otherwise.

“CVIP [The Office of Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Properties] was actually the people who wanted the company to be started,” he said.

The company does not actually have any licensing income yet. Several years will pass before it will be able to generate a revenue stream, and once it does, it will have to give some of the revenue to the University.

CVIP, which was established for all five UMass campuses in September of 1995, attempts to commercialize the research that the University system performs.

According to their homepage, CVIP evaluates, protects and commercializes research that could have a possible value and supports starting companies through licensing and commercial firms.

The website states that “CVIP’s other responsibilities  include … proactively marketing UMass technology and negotiating the ‘best deal’ via University agreements.” 

CVIP also is responsible for “working with the Research Liaison & Development in creating relationships with the industry.”

All new inventions under UMass research can be protected with an invention disclosure. When one is filed with CVIP, funding and research can be protected and possibly commercialized. An evaluation for an invention disclosure can take between three weeks and three months, and if it passes, a patent can take up to and over five years for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to issue or deny a patent.

Huber added that UMass research has great potential, and that when discovered, should be used to the fullest.

“Mike Malone [who was Dean of the College of Engineering at the time] told me that [when] we discover something new at UMass, we have a societal responsibility to try and get it commercialized,” he said. 

Tim Jones can be reached at [email protected]