Tech Transfer in Birmingham


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Dr. David Winwood speaks to Birmingham Venture Club

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Tech Transfer in Birmingham

  1. 1. <ul><li>David Winwood </li></ul><ul><li>The UAB Research Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>16 July 2009 </li></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>The UAB Research Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>The What Why & How </li></ul><ul><li>of </li></ul><ul><li>University Technology Transfer </li></ul>
  3. 3. UAB Research Foundation & UAB Research Fundamentals <ul><li>501 c. 3 established in 1987 to provide services to the research enterprise at UAB </li></ul><ul><li>The research enterprise at UAB is significant – </li></ul><ul><li>UAB’s research expenditures have doubled every decade since its founding: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research expenditures last year were >$420 MM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Of which >$200 MM is from federal awards that is – money being sent here from D.C. and spent in our community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Of the $420 MM, ~ half is salaries – again, mainly spent very close to where we are sitting today </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Every external $ spent on research at UAB has an additional $.84 impact on the local economy </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. UABRF Role <ul><li>The RF completes almost 1,000 transactions a year </li></ul><ul><li>Mainly service-oriented, ‘zero-revenue’ agreements: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Material Transfer Agreements, Confidentiality Agreements, inter-university agreements, consortium / collaboration agreements…. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not ‘newsworthy’ or exciting….but crucial components of the research enterprise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At core, UABRF is a service provider for UAB research </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. The Meat….. <ul><li>The reason most here are interested in the RF: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We own and manage intellectual property created at UAB </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Why? <ul><li>Fundamentally – if we accept federal support - we have to… </li></ul><ul><li>Must provide administrative entity to manage resulting intellectual property – whether (potentially) patentable or research tools or biological materials; at UAB this entity is UABRF </li></ul><ul><li>Bayh-Dole Act, 1980 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides mechanism for university ownership and commercialization of federally-supported inventions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Described as ‘ Possibly the most inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America over the past half-century …*) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>*” INNOVATION'S GOLDEN GOOSE ”, The Economist , Dec 12th 2002 </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Bayh-Dole Act Basics…… <ul><ul><li>Obligation to make developments available in exchange for receipt of government grants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Universities must file patents on inventions they elect to own </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage collaboration with industry to promote the utilization of inventions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must give preference to small businesses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manufacturing in U.S. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Patents………… <ul><li>Typically the UABRF licenses rights to patents </li></ul>
  9. 9. Real Patents….. <ul><li>“ ANNUNCIATOR FOR THE SUPPOSED DEAD” </li></ul><ul><li>Inventor: WILLIAM H. WHITE </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. Patent 465,548 Patented December 22, 1891 </li></ul><ul><li>“ for preventing the commission of &quot;grave errors&quot; </li></ul>
  10. 10. Results, 2006-2007 <ul><li>In the U.S., University-licensed technologies resulted in: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>686 new products being introduced into the market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>555 new startup companies launches </li></ul></ul><ul><li>19,827 new invention disclosures were received by universities </li></ul><ul><li>A total of 5,109 licenses and options were signed </li></ul><ul><li>3,622 patents were issued to universities </li></ul><ul><li>3,388 startup companies based on university-created technologies were still operational (from the beginning of record keeping on such matters, in the late 1980s) </li></ul>
  11. 11. UABRF Metrics (1987-2009) <ul><li>Total inventions received: >1,900 </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. Patents issued: >467 </li></ul><ul><li>Total Option/License agreements: >350 </li></ul>
  12. 12. UABRF Metrics (1987-2009) <ul><li>License revenues collected to date: > $47MM </li></ul><ul><li>Licenses with equity: 39 </li></ul><ul><li>Distributions to inventors: $13.2MM </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As personal income </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Distributions to UAB& UABRF $32MM </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Used to support research activities </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Technology Transfer vs. Knowledge Transfer “ Of course there's a lot of knowledge in universities:  the freshmen bring a little in; the seniors don't take much away, so knowledge sort of accumulates.” Abbott Lawrence Lowell, Harvard president 1909-1933
  14. 14. Technology Transfer Process - Simplified <ul><li>Invention disclosed to TT office </li></ul><ul><li>Review / triage: </li></ul><ul><li>completeness; technical aspects; obligation to funding entity </li></ul><ul><li>( federal agency or private industry? ) </li></ul><ul><li>Patentability </li></ul><ul><li>Marketability </li></ul><ul><li>Seek patent protection </li></ul><ul><li>Identify potential licensee(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Market </li></ul><ul><li>Negotiate terms: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Option period </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal review: Conflicts of interest? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Execute license agreement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitor compliance/diligence terms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain patent portfolio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invoice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribute revenues to happy inventors……. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>( and even to unhappy inventors, as well…..) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Technology Transfer Process - Simplified <ul><li>What could possibly go wrong? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Ego and envy Fear and greed From Louis Berneman UNIVERSITY INDUSTRY Research Partner- ships, Tech Transfer = Economic Development Teaching Research Service Economic Development R&D, products Profits Knowledge for Knowledge’s Sake Academic Freedom Open Discourse Time = Semester Management of Knowledge for Profit Confidentiality Limited Public Disclosure Time = Money UNIVERSITY INDUSTRY Research Partnerships, Tech Transfer = Economic Development Teaching Research Service Economic Development R&D, Products Profits Knowledge for Knowledge’s Sake Academic Freedom Open Discourse: Time = Semester Management of Knowledge for Profit Confidentiality Limited Public Disclosure Time = Money
  17. 17. Challenges? <ul><li>By definition, the technologies managed by the RF are very early stage </li></ul><ul><li>Necessary to seek patent protection very early </li></ul><ul><li>Result – UABRF is almost always the first ‘investor’ in a UAB technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Patent investments made by UABRF in a single portfolio often reach tens or hundreds of thousand $ before (if!) a licensee is found – whether an existing company or a startup </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Finding a Licensee… <ul><li>Strong preference to do business locally to support local economic growth, however – </li></ul><ul><li>Most UAB technologies are licensed out of state or overseas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exception is licenses to UAB startups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Local industry clusters don’t yet match the technology base generated at UAB – strong life sciences portfolio </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Observations <ul><li>Most of our technologies / inventions are not candidates for startup company formation; rather, they will best be introduced into the market place by licensing to an existing company for development as a new product or service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many times that company will be out of state </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Wealth is eventually created here as licensing revenues are returned to UABRF, the inventors and UAB </li></ul>
  20. 20. Expectations <ul><li>Alignment of priorities with performance metrics- </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(e.g., create startup companies and wait for revenues that may never materialize….or license to existing companies for up-front money?) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How is success measured? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>By the university? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By the inventor? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By the community? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By the federal government? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Depending on the answer to this question, management styles for university technology transfer vary considerably across the nation </li></ul>
  21. 21. Goals at UABRF <ul><li>Help build an environment that is supportive of the activities in our realm to build an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem : </li></ul><ul><li>At the university: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>support at all administrative levels – faculty, department, school, university…..trustees </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Local investors </li></ul><ul><li>Serial entrepreneurs – we have some, and they are well represented here – but we need more </li></ul><ul><li>Service providers </li></ul>
  22. 22. Progress <ul><li>New staff positions added </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RF staff now includes 5x Ph.D.’s, 3x MBA’s & 3x J.D.’s… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Better business practices </li></ul><ul><li>Outreach – to faculty & community </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Across campus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With other UA system schools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With local & regional economic development agencies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Participation in national & international professional organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Visibility </li></ul>
  23. 23. Successes – Diverse Portfolio <ul><li>Commercializing a therapeutic technology is expensive and time consuming – but rewards are significant </li></ul><ul><li>Life science service / discovery companies present different paths to commercial success: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discovery BioMed, Vivo BioScience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>IT and bioinformatics based companies from UAB have enjoyed success: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emageon </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MedMined </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DefiniCare </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. A Life Sciences Campus-With Engineering <ul><li>Alabama Launchpad, 2009: </li></ul><ul><li>UAB teams – took 3 out of the 8 final places </li></ul><ul><li>Won first and second place </li></ul><ul><li>$100K 1 st place prize – Innovative Composite Solutions, from UAB’s Materials Sciences (School of Engineering) </li></ul><ul><li>$50K 2 nd place prize, Spectrum PhenomX, Genetics, (School of Medicine) </li></ul>
  25. 25. Summary <ul><li>Work in close collaboration with local, state and regional entities; leverage intellectual and physical assets </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes this means licensing a technology to a company; but often it may mean providing access to expertise or to one of a kind instrumentation. </li></ul><ul><li>If this is done properly - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discoveries become beneficial products and services, medicines, improved electrical and computer equipment, plants, safer food, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Public benefits include employment, commerce, generating state and federal taxes </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>UAB Research Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>205 934 9911 </li></ul>