Arizona Governor approves technology-transfer bill

Gov. Janet Napolitano formally signed a bill Thursday that asks Arizona voters to give universities more flexibility in turning professors’ inventions into real products and growing businesses.

Jane Larson
The Arizona Republic

Surrounded by high-tech and university leaders at a Tempe microscope builder, Napolitano signed House Bill 2403, known as the technology-transfer bill. The bill puts a measure on the 2004 ballot to change the state’s Constitution to allow universities to accept company stock as payment when licensing technology is created in university laboratories.

Approving the tech-transfer measure will unshackle the state’s universities and help build a 21st-century economy, Napolitano said.

"We have vast potential in our state," she said. "We have an incredible intellectual base, an incredible research base, and now it’s time to put that to work to develop an incredible economic base."

Molecular Imaging Corp., formed 10 years ago by two Arizona State University professors to commercialize their work on sophisticated research microscopes, hosted the signing ceremony.

Trading equity for licensing rights would have been a big help to the company in its early days, President and Chief Executive Officer Vance Nau said.

But the current law requires royalty payments, which Nau estimated have cost Molecular Imaging $750,000 to $1 million since its formation.

"Cash is king for small companies, and we weren’t profitable until two years ago," he said.

Molecular Imaging could have used the money to reach that milestone years earlier and be an even bigger company today, he said.

The firm employs more than 33 people and expects revenue this year of nearly $8 million.

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