Celebrate Princeton Invention

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2012


From life-saving drugs to technologies that make people's lives easier, Princeton University researchers continually bring innovations to the marketplace for the benefit of society. Each year, about 300 members of the University research community engage in transferring their discoveries into products and services, according to the University's Office of Technology Licensing.

This year, the discoveries of Princeton inventors include a technique that could help drug companies uncover new cancer medicines; a technology that could reduce the high cost of monthly smartphone data plans; a new class of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs; and a DNA-analysis technology that processes thousands of individual molecules at a time. 

These technologies and the inventors behind them were among those honored Dec. 8 at Celebrate Princeton Invention, an event that brings University innovators together with industry partners and investors interested in commercializing Princeton discoveries.

"The inventions on display at Celebrate Princeton Invention are perfect examples of what Princeton's technology transfer process is all about — enabling the development of promising discoveries, often serendipitous, into products and services that are of great benefit to society and the economy" said A.J. Stewart Smith, dean for research and the Class of 1909 Professor of Physics at Princeton.

Invention reception

At the Celebrate Princeton Invention event held at Princeton on Dec. 8, graduate student Carlee Joe-Wong (left), who does research in the lab of electrical engineer Mung Chiang, speaks with Clifton McCann of the corporate law firm Venable LLP located in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Brian Wilson)

Over the past five years, University inventors have filed about 80 invention disclosures each year. Additionally, Princeton has been issued between 30 and 40 patents annually, said John Ritter, director of the Office of Technology Licensing, which handles the University's technology transfer activities, including filing invention disclosures and patent applications, helping to find corporate partners to license patented technologies, and assisting in the formation of startup companies. 

"We pride ourselves in being very service oriented and working very closely with faculty members," Ritter said. "Often the easiest way to decide if a discovery is patentable is [for researchers] to just pick up the phone and call us." 

By bringing Princeton discoveries to the marketplace, the University fills an important obligation to help transform the results of federally funded research into products and services for public benefit. The University also earns significant royalties and licensing fees, which have been used to pay for projects such as the new Frick Chemistry Laboratory. In 2010, Princeton earned nearly $96 million of income from these sources, the majority of which came from the sale of Alimta, a cancer drug discovered by Edward Taylor, the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Chemistry Emeritus.

See full coverage of the eight technologies featured at Celebrate Princeton Invention.