UNM moves up in tech-transfer rankings

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer/Albuquerque Journal

Dr. Federica Pericle, president and CEO of Agilvax, works with measurement devices in a laboratory. AgilVax is marketing UNM technology to rapidly identify and develop new vaccines. The university is moving up in rankings of research institutions commercializing technology.

 

The University of New Mexico is reaching new heights in national and international rankings for research institutions that work to commercialize new technologies.

UNM ranked 28th among 225 universities and research institutions included in the Milken Institute’s 2017 report, “Concept to Commercialization: The Best Universities for Technology Transfer,” released in May. That’s up from an original ranking of 93 in 2006, when Milken first began publishing the annual report.

UNM also jumped to 33rd this year on a list of 100 universities and research organizations worldwide that received U.S. patents in 2016. The National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association, which released those rankings on Tuesday, began publishing the annual list in 2013. Since then, UNM has steadily climbed the ranks, from 56th in 2013 and 47th last year.

The increase in both rankings reflects the growth in UNM’s technology transfer program, said Lisa Kuuttila, UNM’s chief economic development officer and president and CEO of the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office.

“We are now ranked among the top universities worldwide in both the number of issued patents and overall technology transfer rankings,” Kuuttila said. “This is significant because we are a midsize research university, smaller than many of those who rank below us.”

KUUTTILA: Filling early stage gap critical

The Milken report developed its index based on four-year averages, compiled from 2012-2015, in number of patents received by universities, number of license agreements signed with companies to take new technologies to market, amount of income earned from licenses, and number of startup companies created with university technology.

“The index is an evaluation of research quality, the marketability of the technology created from that research, how well technology-transfer offices perform in commercializing these new inventions, and the economic impact this activity has on local and regional economies,” Kuuttila said. “I believe UNM can be very proud of its standing among other top technology-transfer programs.”

The patent rankings are important, because intellectual property protection is a key part of efforts to commercialize new university inventions. Patents provide critical enticement for investors to license and market new technologies.

“We made a significant leap this year to 33rd in the world,” Kuuttila said. “Since 2013 when we were 56 among the top 100, we’ve climbed at a steady pace.”

UNM received 69 patents in fiscal year 2016, which ended last June. That marked a 10-year peak in annual patents awarded to UNM by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, up from just 11 in FY 2007. So far this year, the university has received another 67 patents.

UNM’s tech transfer office is receiving more than 100 invention disclosures by UNM faculty and staff every year, demonstrating broad support for moving technology from lab to market.

The STC has also signed an annual average of 54 new licensing agreements over the past five years with companies seeking to market UNM technologies. That’s up from an annual average of 31 licenses in the previous five years.

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