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How Startup Technology Commercialization Works – Part One

The startup research done by leaders in the field like Brown, Kozmetsky, Smilor and David Birch show that large companies don’t innovate well they need products not raw technologies. It is the small and medium size firms that can take a raw technology and turn it into a product; but they lack sufficient resources to proceed. Consequently, over 75% of the licensable technologies sit on the University shelves.

Here in the state of Utah, we have made a significant effort to enhance the dissemination of technologies resulting from R&D at our research institutions. As you may be aware, the University of Utah this past year surpassed MIT and is the number one University in new high tech startups.

Brigham Young University has a larger percent of royalties per dollar of research than other institutions who are members of AUTM, the Association University Technology Managers, of which almost 2,000 institutions participate.

The research institutions receive their R&D funding, which is expended on research activities, the research often result in intellectual properties. These intellectual properties are provided to the Technology Transfer Office for them to find application and potential licensees of the technology. Here in Utah, which is generally typical nationally, 84% of all the patents are for manufactured products and 16% are for software and internet innovations.

Most of the potential candidates identified for application of these intellectual properties are either among the large manufacturers, of which there are approximately 3,000 in the United States, or are implemented into new high tech startups, generally spin offs from the research institutions.

The system of bringing in R&D funds, accomplishing the research, providing it to the Technology Transfer Office for them to find someone to use the new intellectual properties is a “push” system, that is to say a ‘Products Offered’ methodology. This technology push mentality (as opposed to market pull) two major items became obvious.

First, more than 75% of all of the innovations and technologies developed each year are not licensed, transferred to industry or incorporated into products. Secondly, because of the man power required to conduct technology transfer, the focus has primarily been, as mentioned, on the 3,000 large manufacturers or to their own high tech start ups

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