Income from Virginia Tech inventions increases

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 4, 2004 – Virginia Tech was 26th among 94 universities without a medical school in terms of income from the licensing of inventions in 2001, according to the just released survey by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).

In the most recent fiscal year, ending June 30, 2003, VTIP earned more than $2.3 million from licensing intellectual properties, such as a new family of molecules -- metal filled fullerenes, patented in 2001 and licensed for development to Luna nanoMaterials of Blacksburg. The hollow carbon molecules, which chemistry professor Harry Dorn and his colleagues figured out how to fill, have the potential to be the backbone of many nanotechnology applications, such as enhanced MRI agents and devices for delivering medicine to disease sites within the body.

A number of inventions have resulted in new companies. Virginia Tech ranked 19th among universities without a medical school in terms of start up companies from intellectual properties in 2001 according to AUTM. One such company is Prime Photonics, LC of Blacksburg, which manufactures sensors that go into harsh environments, such as oil wells and transformers.

In other rankings released by AUTM in January, VTIP is 11th in the number (109) of disclosures of inventions and creations received from faculty, staff, and students in 2001; fifth in the number of patents applied for, and 19th in the number of patents awarded.

Recent patents have been for adaptable flight control for military aircraft, switches for hybrid fuel cell-electric vehicles, voltage regulators for microprocessors, treatment for retina detachment, a brucellosis vaccine, coal cleaning technology, a new peanut, and a feed supplement and pasture treatment that improves the immunity of cattle, horses, pigs, and poultry.

In fiscal year 2003, not yet ranked, VTIP received and evaluated 137 invention disclosures; 34 patents were awarded by the U.S. Patent Office for Virginia Tech inventions; and 34 new licenses were signed between businesses and VTIP. Licensing revenue is shared by the inventor, the inventor's home department or center and college, the Virginia Tech research division, and VTIP. The research division invests proceeds in new research and VTIP invests proceeds in development and marketing of discoveries and creations.

"Virginia Tech is recognized around the world as a preeminent research university," says Mike Martin, executive vice president of VTIP. "We believe that the inventions that result from that research will provide valuable solutions to some of society's critical needs."

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors established VTIP in 1985 as a nonprofit corporation to protect and license intellectual properties that result from research by the faculty, staff, and students. Protection and marketing activities optimize income from IP and increase local economic development by enabling businesses to participate in licensing new technologies and by supporting new business assistance centers. There have been more than 20 businesses resulting from Virginia Tech IP since VTIP was founded, Martin reports.