BYU, U. of Utah in patent top 10
Y. heads the list in inventions reported, and Utah is 8th
PROVO — Brigham Young University and the University of Utah both rank among the top 10 colleges nationwide at turning ideas into
By Jeffrey P. Haney
Deseret News staff writer
An analysis of patent and licensing efforts indicates the two rivals on the football field also jostle for attention from investors seeking to
make quick bucks on newfangled gadgets.
The study, published Friday in The Chronicle of Higher Education, is based on data voluntarily submitted each year to the Association of
University Technology Managers.
Reports from 1996 to 2000 were scrutinized by researchers to determine if the country’s public and private universities handle intellectual
property of professors with care.
The study ranks schools for their ability to successfully take research into the marketplace. It also shows which colleges are seeing huge
returns on small investments in research and pinpoints a number of colleges with big research budgets but small invention-royalty returns.
"This work can be very rewarding for the inventor," says Jayne F. Carney, director of the U.’s technology transfer office.
"Most people are at the university to push back the boundaries of knowledge," she said. "It becomes more exciting when that knowledge
can help the public, too."
Only complete data from 118 schools was evaluated.
In the study, BYU ranks No. 1 in the number of inventions reported per $1 million
spent in research.
BYU boasts the highest number of start-up companies per $10 million spent on
research and ranks third best in the amount of money earned from licenses in
comparison to money spent.
Lynn Astle, director of BYU’s technology transfer office, says the school shone on
the Chronicle’s scorecard largely because BYU patents have yielded solid returns in
comparison with the school’s $15 million to $20 million yearly research budget.
From 1996 to 2000, BYU saw a return of 23 cents for every dollar spent on
research, according to the Chronicle’s study.
"BYU’s prime object is to teach students," Astle said. "And we do research to
Astle said the LDS Church-owned school has three "moneymakers" that bring in
nearly half of the $3 million to $5 million in royalties earned yearly by the school.
Two of the main inventions — one is a new kind of hearing aid and the other is a
computer program that models groundwater systems — were made available through
The most lucrative license, he said, is a leukemia-treating drug licensed to a
subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
"We have really good, entrepreneurial faculty," said Astle. "We couldn’t do anything if we didn’t have good ideas to sell."
The U., which earns an average of $44,720 per license on university patents, ranked No. 8 in the number of inventions disclosed per $1
million spending on research.
The state’s flagship school, which also has the only higher-education medical center, excels at helping inventions reach the public while
also stimulating economic growth.
Biopharmaceutical company Myriad Genetics and Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp. are two examples of start-up companies based on
In a four-year period, U. research spurred the opening of 35 spin-off firms. That places the U. as the sixth most-effective institution for
putting university research in the hands of investors who then start new companies to make the product.
The U., which started an office to oversee patent development 35 years ago, also is the fifth most effective college in helping create
start-up companies per $10 million spent on research, according to the analysis. "It’s reflective of the culture in Utah," says Carney, whose
office files disclosures for nearly 200 inventions each year. "It’s a very entrepreneurial state."
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