Universities across the United States have seen patent licensing revenue climb in recent years as both school officials and private firms take a greater interest in commercializing classroom innovation. However, these numbers hold discouraging news for a few universities, underscoring the diligence required to craft a patent strategy that is both lucrative and sustainable.
Three years ago, the Universities of Minnesota and Iowa were at the head of the class when it came to monetizing academic assets. According to the USA Today, the large Midwestern universities amassed approximately $85 million and $43 million in royalty revenues respectively in 2009. By the end of 2011, those figures dropped to $10 million and $6 million respectively.
According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the University of Minnesota's declining revenue was largely caused by the impending expiration of a patent covering the AIDS drug Ziagen. The University of Iowa shared a similar fate, as it also saw the expiration of a single pharmaceutical patent compromise its revenue stream.
Realizing that they can no longer survive on one-off, blockbuster innovations, schools are starting to promote the entrepreneurial spirit at new levels within their institutions. According to the USA Today, schools are urging their best scientific and business minds to foster an attitude of cooperation and exploration that supports a more sustainable pipeline of marketable ideas.