Tech Transfer reports record year of performance

September 21, 2015
Contact: Greta Guest

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan spurred a record 19 startups last year, up from 14 a year ago, reflecting the substantial activity connected to its faculty’s rich array of research discoveries.

U-M Tech Transfer set several records for annual performance in fiscal year 2015 including patents, agreements, startups and revenue.

“It is gratifying to see these record-setting metrics for, not just one, but several indicators of tech transfer performance,” said Ken Nisbet, associate vice president for research-technology transfer. “This is a reflection of the creativity of our researchers, the resourcefulness of our tech transfer team, and the contributions from our partners in the university, business, government and entrepreneurial communities.”

This year’s startups include Genomenon, which developed genome sequencing software that can identify cancer markers more quickly than existing technology; FlexDex Surgical, created a laparoscopy tool that provides surgeons with greater dexterity and natural motion when sewing sutures; and Praktio, which has developed a massive open online course for contract law.

U-M Tech Transfer signed a record 164 option and license agreements compared to 148 a year ago. The year also marked a record in U.S. patents issued with 160, up from 132 in fiscal year 2014.

And a record $78.8 million in licensing revenues were received, up from $18.5 million in the last fiscal year, largely due to a unique royalty monetization agreement. Researchers reported 422 new inventions in fiscal year 2015, down from last year’s 439, but the third straight year of more than 400 inventions from U-M faculty.

These licensing revenues provide funds to reinvest in continued university research and innovation, investments that fuel continued contributions to our regional economies and our quality of life, Nisbet said.

The record number of agreements this year is significant, he said. It reflects the deployment of U-M inventions into the marketplace where they can have positive benefits for the general public.

U-M startups are launched with the guidance and resources of Tech Transfer’s Venture Center. The Venture Center is a one-stop hub for entrepreneurs and investors looking for startup opportunities based on U-M research.

“In the course of their research, our faculty often come up with ideas that have potential in the marketplace. Tech Transfer works closely with industry, government and venture partners to ensure that society benefits from the concepts and expertise emerging from our laboratories. I am very pleased to see the increasing activities in this area,” said S. Jack Hu, U-M’s interim vice president for research.

The university will recognize the accomplishments of faculty and researchers engaged in the technology transfer process at the 15th annual Celebrate Invention reception at 3 p.m. Oct. 8. Kiosks representing the vast range of innovation and entrepreneurship from U-M Tech Transfer activities will be on display at the event, to be held at the U-M Michigan League Ballroom. The event is free but registration is required at