U-M Tech Transfer reports record number of new inventions


University of Michigan researchers reported 444 new inventions in fiscal year 2017 — up from last year’s 428 — and the fifth straight year of more than 400 inventions from U-M faculty.

U-M Tech Transfer also had a record 172 U.S. patents issued in FY ’17, up from 135 in the previous fiscal year. It also signed 173 license and option agreements with companies seeking to commercialize the discoveries of university researchers in the past fiscal year — equal to the record set in FY ’16.

“The continuing success of our faculty and technology transfer reflects the relevance of our research to real-world applications that can benefit the public,” said S. Jack Hu, vice president for research, whose office oversees U-M Tech Transfer. “And the record number of invention disclosures shows increasing participation from faculty across campus.”

Out of the 173 licenses and options, Tech Transfer issued 12 licenses to new startup companies. U-M startups are offered guidance and resources from the Tech Transfer Venture Center, which is a starting point for entrepreneurs and investors looking for startup opportunities based on U-M research.

This year’s startups include:

• Brio Device, which makes medical devices that assist in the medical procedure called intubation — the insertion of airway breathing tubes.

• Neurable, a company that has developed a brain-wave-interpretation system that allows one to move devices such as toys, cars, wheelchairs, TVs and video games.

• Ripple Science, a platform for recruiting and managing participants for clinical trials and translational research.

The office also brought in revenues from licensing totaling $14.6 million, much of which are invested in university research and innovation.

Rick Brandon, interim director of Tech Transfer, noted that the university’s continued success is a testament to both the quality of research at U-M and the increasingly collaborative spirit of organizations.

“There’s a growing appreciation that we’re doing work here that’s not only critical to the university’s mission, but vital to Michigan’s economy and the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Brandon said. “And I think that we now have a number of infrastructure pieces working in the same direction to make that happen.”

The university will recognize the accomplishments of faculty and researchers at the 17th annual Celebrate Invention reception at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Kiosks representing activities of U-M faculty, student innovators and U-M entrepreneurial organizations, will be on display at the Michigan League Ballroom. The event is free, but registration is required and will be available at the door.


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