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The University of Pennsylvania is still the leader by far in most measures of technology-transfer activity among area research institutions and also remains one of the top schools nationally, according to a recently released survey.
Penn performed $785.3 million worth of sponsored research in its 2010 fiscal year, which was its 2009-10 academic year, according to the Fiscal Year 2010 U.S. Licensing Activity Survey, which was released last month by the Association of University Technology Managers.
That total makes Penn the largest recipient of research dollars among research institutions in the region, with the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania second with $219.6 million.
“Penn produces more inventions and more technology than the rest of the [area] universities put together and I don’t say that out of grandeur, it’s just a fact,” saidMichael Cleare, Penn’s associate vice provost for research.
Nationally, Penn placed 15th, right behind Stanford University with $806 million in research, although four of the entities ahead of them were state university systems, including that of California, which led with research expenditures of $5.2 billion. Pennsylvania State University was right behind Penn with $780.1 million in research.
Most of the research dollars received by Penn, other universities and research hospitals come from the federal government, although corporations and foundations also sponsor research.
Research dollars are the seed corn of technology transfer, as without them, institutions wouldn’t be able to do the research that produces the technology they spin out.
That said, schools and hospitals don’t have to be among the top recipients of research grants to have healthy technology-transfer programs.
“What universities do is they pick a peer group to measure themselves against” to see how their tech-transfer operations are performing, said Robin Rasor, the director of licensing at the University of Michigan’s Office of Technology Transfer and AUTM’s president.
Tech transfer has long been considered an important local economic-development tool, and some place a higher value on it than that.
“To me, it’s critical to the future of the United States,” said Maxine Ballen, president and CEO of the New Jersey Technology Council, which hosted its annual Regional Commercialization Conference at the University City Science Center on Thursday. “Innovation has got to remain on our shore line and where else is it happening? If it’s any place, it’s the universities.”