Advisory committee's recommendations support entrepreneurial faculty

Friday, May 29, 2015

From new treatments for cancer to energy-efficient lighting, Princeton research has the potential to benefit health, energy and the environment. The Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) provides assistance and support to faculty who engage in entrepreneurship as a means to bring to the public innovations discovered in Princeton's laboratories and research facilities.

Support for entrepreneurial faculty is one of the recommendations of the newly issued Princeton Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee (PEAC) report, which proposes a broad set of actions to enhance entrepreneurship at the University. The Office of Technology Licensing provides numerous services for faculty and their research groups to develop discoveries into entrepreneurial ventures.

"Over the last decade, we have seen an upswing of interest among our faculty, research staff and students in transitioning their research ideas and prototypes into entrepreneurial ventures," said John Ritter, director of technology licensing. "We've responded by increasing our outreach to faculty and by providing the information they need through our publications, web sites, and personal communications, and we look forward to expanding our capacity to advise and support entrepreneurial faculty in the near future."

OTL's licensing associates help to evaluate the commercial potential for a new discovery, assist in the filing of new invention disclosures and patents, negotiate the licensing of technologies, and advise faculty members on establishing start-up companies.

"We work closely with faculty to identify opportunities for translation of their research into the devices and services of the future," Ritter said. "Their innovations can make a tangible difference in people's everyday lives, and include advances in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, materials science, chemistry, computers and software, and many other areas."

Recently, OTL established an "Executive in Residence" position to bring entrepreneurial and industry-based perspectives to faculty and students interested in making University research available for commercial development. The Executive in Residence provides opportunity assessments and commercialization strategies, mentors new and existing Princeton start-ups, and facilitates contact with industry experts.

OTL also published this year the Inventor’s Guide to Technology Transfer at Princeton, which provides researchers with an overview of the basics of intellectual property, patents, licensing and the technology transfer process at Princeton. The guide was developed in response to demand from Princeton faculty and graduate student researchers.

The University also supports the development of promising new technologies through its Intellectual Property Accelerator Fund, which awards funding of up to $100,000 to advance early-stage research to a point where it is attractive to further investment from industry.

OTL assists with the translation of University technologies in a manner consistent with Princeton's emphasis on research, education and dedication to public service, Ritter said. Federal law allows Princeton to have ownership rights to discoveries resulting from federally funded research. Princeton re-invests licensing revenue in the University's core missions of teaching and research. For example, the Frick Chemistry Laboratory was built with funds from licensing of the cancer drug, Alimta.

In fiscal year 2014, OTL assisted faculty and staff researchers with 106 new invention disclosures and the filing of 175 patent applications. Over the past several years, the office facilitated the creation of start-up ventures for over 20 research discoveries.

The office provides a personalized approach tailored to fit the technology and the needs and concerns of the faculty researcher, Ritter said. "Our goal is to help faculty to determine the best strategy for bringing their discoveries forward in ways that can stimulate the economy and provide overall benefit to the public."