Patent News

Sep. 10, 2014

Press Release: Tech Transfer Industry Report Shows Steady Growth, Cites Importance of Federal Research Funding


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 10, 2014) –The country’s leading organization of technology management officials reported today the results of its annual licensing survey, showing steady growth in the patenting and licensing of new technologies and a 16% increase in the number of new technology business enterprises in 2013.

Meeting this week in Washington, the Board of Directors of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) released the highlights of its annual Licensing Activity Survey covering technology transfer activities in Fiscal Year 2013. The Highlights Report is available on AUTM’s web site:

The report noted: “Despite reductions in federal research funding, academic and research institution licensing and startup activity are very strong and continue to play an important role in the economy.”

Such robust licensing and startup activity cannot continue, however, in the context of reduced federal research funding, the report warns. AUTM leaders emphasized that continued gains in licensing and new business startups will “be jeopardized if Congress does not provide strong and sustained funding for basic research, or if legislation is enacted that would make patenting and licensing new discoveries more difficult.”

Jane Muir, president of AUTM and director of the Florida Innovation Hub at the University of Florida, commented, “While we are a numbers-driven society, it is important to note that some of the most important numbers are not actually captured in this survey. It is difficult to quantify the impact of the many people whose cancer is in complete remission as a result of immunotherapy research started in a university lab.”

Muir added, “That said, there is direct correlation between investing in research and the benefits to the American taxpayers. We need strong support for research funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and we need Congress to maintain the strength of the US patent system by avoiding roadblocks to patent holders who need to enforce legitimately their patents against infringement.”

The survey reveals that the combined number of executed licenses and options (6,554) showed an increase over FY2012, as did the number of startups (818), the number of new commercial products (719) and the sales revenue generated from net product sales ($22.8 billion). The report points out:
“The 818 new companies created as a result of technology transfer activities represent an increase of 16% over the prior year and an average of 2.25 new companies per day.”

Reflecting on challenges facing AUTM’s members to sustain the continued growth of new technologies, the report points out: “After a period of steady growth … federal research dollars remained relatively flat (-0.7%) last year, and there are signs that additional headwinds can be expected.” The report further states:

“This disinvestment will diminish the strong contributions to the nation’s innovative capacity provided by university technology transfer that AUTM and the industry overall have worked to achieve. As a result, universities have explored expanding the relationships with industry collaborators,” which the report explains amounted to some $4.5 billion in FY2013, an 11% increase over 2012.

The report also calls attention to the increased university investment in intellectual property in FY2013, as a total of 24,555 patent applications were filed in the U.S. and 5,714 new U.S. patents were issued in 2013.

The 2013 survey was distributed to 299 U.S. institutions, 202 of which responded, for a response rate of 68%, a slight increase over the 2012 response rate of 65%.


News Media contact:
Patrick Strickler

The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) is a nonprofit organization with an international membership of more than 3,200 technology managers and business executives. AUTM members—the majority of whom are managers of intellectual property, with IP being one of the most active growth sectors of the global economy—work at universities, research institutions and teaching hospitals, as well as numerous businesses and government organizations.