March 19, 2010
One of the most important deals a company will make is its first one. Whether the licensor is an individual, a company or a university tech transfer office; and whether the deal is a sale, a joint venture, the hiring of a CMO or something entirely unique, tech transfer will be an essential aspect.
Thirty years ago, universities were not thought of as commercialization centers, says Cheryl Reicin. "In fact, I think there was a bias against commercialization among academics. And basically, the tech transfer offices were there to serve professors or students that came up with an invention and wanted help getting a patent. So it was a very discreet type of service – not very proactive, more passive – and the focus was on patents. As university tech transfer offices developed, there was a real premium on how many patents an office could produce. But they weren’t concerned with how much money a tech transfer office could make or how well the commercialization opportunities were doing. Eventually, though, the focus went to licensing out technology and getting some commercial benefit from it."
That change of focus did not happen overnight, nor did it happen universally. Adds Cheryl: “I would say that over the past 20 years, Stanford and MIT and Harvard were ahead of the curve – and some universities are not there yet. But some of these tech transfer offices started not only licensing out technologies, but also spinning out and building companies because they realized that sometimes when you license out technology too early you give up a lot of the value. So that was a next step. Now a few tech transfer offices have even gone beyond that by pulling intellectual property, taking it public in a vehicle, or pulling spin-out companies and taking them public."
Read the full article here.