Office of Intellectual Property leads in commercialization

Linda Benedict  |  4/27/2012 1:26:00 AM

Herry Utomo, associate professor at the Rice Research Station in Crowley, is helping to create fast-growing plants for coastal restoration. (Photo by Bruce Schultz)

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The most lucrative licensing agreement for the LSU AgCenter has been with BASF to produce Clearfield rice, which is a herbicide-resistant rice that is not a GMO. (Photo by Bruce Schultz)

TigerBullets are a new type of plastic-and-wood composite that prevents lost circulation in oil drilling wells. The inventor was Qinglin Wu, a scientist in the School of Renewable Natural Resources. The company that produces the product is Hole Pluggers. (Photo by Mark Claesgens)

The LSU AgCenter is charged with conducting research and extending it to people in a useful form. Those efforts help keep Louisiana’s $12.7 billion agriculture industry going strong.

But what happens when that research reveals something truly revolutionary — something that could change the industry if it was put into everyday practice?

The LSU AgCenter is one of the nation’s best examples of how an institution of higher education can use its research to stimulate economic growth. Twelve companies and countless technologies exist today because of research done at the AgCenter.

Established in 1991, the AgCenter’s Office of Intellectual Property has grown to be the leader in commercialization of intellectual property within the LSU System and, in fact, within higher education in Louisiana. The crown jewel of its achievements is a licensing agreement with international chemical company BASF to produce the herbicide-resistant line of Clearfield rice varieties.

Inventors receive 40 percent of the income from royalties. The LSU System receives 10 percent. The remaining 50 percent goes back into the AgCenter’s research funds.

“It is the goal of the AgCenter’s Office of Intellectual Property to remake technology transfer on our campus,” said Wade Baumgartner, director of the Office of Intellectual Property. “We will continue the traditional functions of technology transfer — patenting, material transfers and licensing — but more importantly, we want to build a community among our researchers, Louisiana businesses and investors, and small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

The practicality of the AgCenter’s research — how to better grow crops and raise livestock in Louisiana — can sometimes make commercialization natural. It is a type of research that requires close attention to the needs of its clientele, which fosters useful relationships with business and industry that can advance the adoption of new technology.

Fourteen licenses were executed in 2014, bringing the AgCenter’s total of active licenses to 68. Together, they generated more than $9.2 million.

Clean Chemistry recently licensed biocidal compositions that oxidize biofilms that were developed by Don Day, a professor at the AgCenter’s Audubon Sugar Institute. The compositions can be used to destroy microorganisms that can contaminate water or the machinery used to treat it.

Three sweet potato varieties — Evangeline, Bonita, and Murasaki-29 — developed at the AgCenter continued to show commercial success and generate licenses in 2014. The Orleans sweet potato, made commercially available in 2013, also began to generate licenses shortly after its release. The four varieties generated six licenses in 2014 alone.

Two patents were issued to AgCenter inventors in 2014. Thirty Material Transfer Agreements were executed in 2014, allowing potential commercial partners to share material and research.

Twelve start-up companies resulting from AgCenter licensing agreements are still operational, including one that formed in 2014. Some notable examples are:

Esperance Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a Baton Rouge-based biopharmaceutical company that develops novel targeted anticancer agents based on patented technologies from the LSU AgCenter, Pennington Biomedical Research Center and LSU A&M.

Hole Pluggers/TigerBullets
TigerBullets are a new type of plastic-and-wood composite that prevents lost circulation in oil drilling wells. The technology was licensed from the LSU AgCenter by the Louisiana startup company Hole Pluggers. The company has entered into a worldwide distribution agreement with MI Swaco, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

Delta Land Services
Delta Land Services is a varied company that has partnered with the LSU AgCenter to develop a marsh remediation and coastal restoration technology. Delta is a local Louisiana company commercializing the LSU AgCenter technology under the trade name Shore Links to deliver a low-cost solution for coastal wetland protection and restoration.

BASF/Clearfield Rice
Clearfield rice is a herbicide-resistant rice developed by the LSU AgCenter and grown around the world under exclusive license to BASF. This technology revolutionized the rice industry. It allows farmers to make considerable progress against the red rice weed. Because Clearfield is herbicide-resistant, farmers can use herbicides to kill the red rice without harming the commercial rice. The technology allows farmers to drill-seed rice into dry soil instead of water-seeding from the air, which is more expensive and can lead to more soil loss from the fields.

Olivia McClure

The LSU AgCenter is one of 10 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research and extension programs that contribute to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through nutrition education and 4-H youth, family and community programs.

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