New universitywide structure revamps tech licensing office

A new universitywide strategy and organizational framework to support technology transfer and commercialization of Cornell’s intellectual property (IP) is being implemented, according to Robert A. Buhrman, senior vice provost for research and vice president for technology transfer, intellectual property and research policy.

Leaders of the Cornell campuses in Ithaca and New York City jointly developed the new framework. It establishes roles and responsibilities of Cornell units and offices involved with technology development and commercialization, development of strategic alliances, advancement of student entrepreneurship and promotion of regional economic development.

According to Buhrman, over the past decade opportunities for technology transfer and entrepreneurship have blossomed at Cornell.

“The founding of Cornell Tech, the McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences, the opening of Rev Ithaca Startup Works and the development of the vigorous student Entrepreneurship at Cornell program are indicators of the progress we’ve made,” said Buhrman. “We are changing the university’s strategy to lead technology transfer and commercialization of intellectual property developed by researchers to benefit the world.”

CTL by the numbers:
In fiscal year 2014, the group received 354 intellectual property disclosures for 286 inventions, 30 plants and 38 copyrights. CTL filed 141 nonprovisional U.S. patent applications and 258 international applications. Cornell was issued 92 patents and 139 international patents. CTL negotiated 48 commercial licenses from inventions, 19 from copyrights and 91 from plant varieties, and received $11.1 million in licensing income and $3.2 million in patent expense reimbursement. Eleven startup companies were established based on licensed Cornell technologies, the second-highest number in Cornell’s history.

To clarify its role in technology transfer, the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization (CCTEC) has become the Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) at Cornell University. CTL’s mission is to bring the university’s scientific discoveries, technological innovations and medical advances to the marketplace and to foster economic development in New York state and across the nation. CTL will obtain legal protection, patents and copyrights for Cornell IP that has commercialization potential, will market and license IP to commercial entities, and will garner support for continued research advances.

CTL staff will work closely with business development officers in the colleges and on the Cornell Tech and Weill Cornell campuses to engage industry partners in such efforts as developing strategic alliances to support major research initiatives, moving quickly to commercialization, and advancing innovation through public and private sectors. The business development officers also will be catalysts for entrepreneurialism, IP commercialization and the formation of startups.

Alice Li, Ph.D. ’98, is the CTL interim director. An executive director will be chosen by the university’s Intellectual Property Governance Board, composed of Harry Katz, Cornell interim provost; Dan Huttenlocher, vice provost and Cornell Tech dean; Laurie Glimcher, provost for Medical Affairs and dean of Weill Cornell Medical College; and Buhrman.

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Joe Schwartz