Linda Benedict, Baumgartner, Wade
Right now is an exciting time to be engaged in the art of technology transfer and economic development at the LSU AgCenter. Since 2006, the AgCenter has obtained 24 issued patents and has gone from 16 active technology licenses to 67. Not only that, but the Office of Sponsored Programs and Intellectual Property has more than doubled annual revenue to $10 million. These royalty monies have gone to support research during this time of drastic fiscal constraints.
An equally important outcome of the work, represented in this issue, is the impact on Louisiana businesses and the state’s economy. The efforts of AgCenter researchers have led to the creation of companies and the expansion of others across a spectrum of industries, including oil and gas production, functional food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, herbicide-resistant crops, advanced sugar technology, biofuels, termite eradication, coastal remediation and others. While AgCenter technologies have developed in nontraditional areas related to agriculture, the core production agricultural research of our university continues to provide critical improvements in varieties for rice, small grains and sweet potatoes, which are vital to maintaining the competitiveness of Louisiana producers.
The Office of Intellectual Property, which began in 1986, celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. In 1986, there were few companies focused on intellectual property assets. Today, however, it is rare to see any contract or agreement that does not focus a significant portion of its attention on the ownership and development rights of the intellectual property created.
The foundation for a university owning the intellectual property created by its researchers was the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. Back then, the idea of a university owning a patent was fairly new, let alone the thought of a university being actively engaged in the development of the technology. Over the years the AgCenter’s focus has been improving the lives of Louisiana citizens and beyond by leveraging the intellectual property of the university. The AgCenter can proudly claim to be a good steward of these assets, and the AgCenter is one of only 35 universities in the entire nation where the revenue generated through licensing its intellectual property not only covers the cost of the office itself but also plows a significant amount of investment back into the research endeavor of the university.
In the coming years, we see significant change coming to the enterprise of “technology transfer.” The opportunities that exist to expand the relationship among the university, its stakeholders and industry will likely look different than in the past. Our office’s focus continues to evolve from the early days of technology transfer. In 1986, a faculty member would bring an invention to the office, and then we would seek to find a commercialization partner. Today, we continue to promote university technology through that process, but more of our focus is on assisting faculty in developing relationships with industrial partners to solve real-world problems by applying the research strengths of the university. This approach is bearing fruit, and it is most rewarding to see industry-sponsored research addressing the real needs of Louisiana businesses and the results of that research reaching the marketplace to benefit our stakeholders through innovative products, more efficient use of resources and higher levels of employment. We look forward to building on these successes and encourage you to consider visiting with us if you are interested in starting a business based on university technology, adding a new revenue stream to your existing business by commercializing university technology, or allowing us to partner with you to research a problem and then bring that solution to market.
The first 25 years at the AgCenter Office of Intellectual Property have produced great results for the people we serve, and we expect the next 25 years to be just as successful.
Wade Baumgartner is the director of the Office of Sponsored Programs and Intellectual Property.
(This article was published in the fall 2012 issue of Louisiana Agriculture magazine.)