LAWRENCE — Public universities have made strides in evolving their technology transfer activities, but they must do more to address the demands of the innovation economy, according to a new report by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).
The report, Technology Transfer Evolution: Driving Economic Prosperity, calls on universities to accelerate their transition to a technology transfer model that reflects broader engagement in economic development and connects to the learning and discovery missions of universities. APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness & Economic Prosperity produced the report to help public research universities evolve toward more comprehensive technology transfer efforts.
Julie Nagel, associate vice chancellor for innovation & entrepreneurship for the University of Kansas, co-chaired the committee and co-authored the report.
“Part of public universities’ mission is to drive economic prosperity, and technology transfer efforts are a crucial component of that. Public universities should continue to redefine expectations for their technology transfer offices in support of an overall economic engagement mission including other aspects such as industry and entrepreneurial partnerships,” said Nagel, who is also president of KU Innovation & Collaboration, the unit that oversees KU’s efforts to bring innovation to the marketplace for the benefit of society and the university.
The report finds public research universities are moving beyond a transactional, revenue-driven technology transfer approach and are increasingly important drivers in innovation ecosystems, educating high-skilled graduates who produce the ideas and deliver services that drive the economy.
The report identifies four guideposts for institutions aiming to evolve their technology transfer activities:
- Success in technology transfer should not be measured by revenue, but by contributions to economic prosperity;
- Technology transfer must better integrate and align with the broader economic engagement efforts of the university;
- Strategic resource allocation for technology transfer, including funding and staffing, must take into account a broader scope of activities and expectations; and
- The economic engagement story must be made more explicit.
KU continues to expand its efforts to translate its discoveries into new products and services that drive economic growth. There are 38 active companies that have spun out of KU or are based on KU discoveries or technologies. Last year, KU researchers conducted $238.8 million in externally funded research, which is new money that flows into Kansas because of the work KU does. Since 2010, more than 20 companies have located in or near Lawrence to partner with KU researchers, including Archer Daniels Midland, Sun Life Financial and Ligand Pharmaceuticals. There are currently more than 40 tenants in the Bioscience & Technology Business Center.
For more information, download the KU and the Economy fact sheet.