TEC Edmonton’s Technology Transfer division is reporting the highest number of Reports-Of-Invention (ROI) ever coming from the University of Alberta (U of A).
“We are now at 105 Reports of Invention for fiscal 2011/12,” reports Jay Kumar, TEC Edmonton’s Director of Technology Transfer. “We still have most of the fourth quarter of the year to go.”
As the exclusive Technology Transfer Agent for the University of Alberta, TEC Edmonton receives all Reports of Invention filed by U of A researchers.
Once filed, 95 of those researchers then asked TEC Edmonton’s Technology Transfer division to assess their inventions for patentability and commercial potential.
Once that assessment is complete, TEC Edmonton decides if it sees enough commercialization potential in the invention to warrant TEC Edmonton’s involvement. “Generally speaking, we give the go-ahead to 60% to 70% of the ROIs we are asked to assess,” says Jay.
If the inventor is willing, TEC Edmonton works with him or her to file for patents and to determine an initial business strategy, i.e. whether the inventor wishes to form a “spin-off” company from the U of A, or wishes to license the invention to an already-established company.
If the inventor/researcher wants to forge ahead with his or her own company, TEC Edmonton’s Business Development Services are available to help the inventor set up the business. If the strategy is to license the invention to an already-established company, the Technology Transfer division helps the inventor identify the right partner and negotiates the terms of the license.
Five to 10 years ago, 60 to 65 ROIs from the University of Alberta per year were filed with TEC Edmonton’s predecessor, the U of A’s Industry Liaison Office. With the establishment of TEC Edmonton as the U of A’s exclusive technology transfer agent, that number has steadily risen year by year.
“Research funding has been significantly enhanced over the past 10 years, from $265 million in 2001 to $536 million this past year,” says the practical Jay. “There’s always a multi-year lag between funding and eventually an ROI.”
And, says Jay, his department is doing a pretty good job. “We’re now getting repeat customers, researchers who have worked with us in the past and want to work with us again. They’re seeing the value in what we do. That only 10 of the 105 researchers who filed ROIs chose not to work with us is a reflection, I hope, of our service.”
In the case of inventions coming from U of A researchers, TEC Edmonton receives a small percentage of sales if an invention becomes widely used. One of its current revenue streams, for instance, comes from royalties on a genetic test now widely used in the cattle industry.
"It's been very busy," says Jay of his department's work. "But it's good to see so many new ideas with market potential coming out of the University of Alberta."
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