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ASU lauded for entrepreneurship, economic growth

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August 19, 2014

Arizona State University is among 12 universities recognized for their accomplishments “as creators of intellectual capital and economic growth” in a recent book-length report on the nexus between university innovation and economic development.

The report, Innovation U 2.0: Reinventing University Roles in a Knowledge Economy, cites a wide range of ASU entrepreneurship activities begun or accelerated under ASU President Michael Crow. It then zeroes in on the innovative approach to technology commercialization practiced by Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), ASU’s exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization.

“Having a robust, productive and entrepreneurial technology transfer function at Arizona State has been a high priority," the report says. "The overall philosophy of the office seems to be less focused on maximizing value to the university, and more on rapid dissemination of ASU inventions and discoveries into the market."

“In fact, the formation and procedures of AzTE, as opposed to the prior organization and procedures of the technology transfer function, have yielded significant increases in disclosures, licenses/options, startups and patents," the report continues. "ASU is doing very well in technology transfer performance.”

The numbers back up the report. ASU, through the activities of AzTE, is annually one of the top-performing U.S. universities in terms of intellectual property inputs (inventions disclosed by ASU researchers) and outputs (licensing deals and startups) relative to the size of the university's research enterprise.

In fiscal year 2014, ASU faculty working with AzTE set new record highs in invention disclosures (261), U.S.-issued patents (56), startups (12) and licenses and options (90). Overall, venture development activities have led to the formation and assistance of more than 70 companies based on ASU discoveries. Start-up companies and sub-licensees that have licensed ASU IP have attracted over $450 million in funding from venture capital firms and other investors, with much of this financing achieved during the last several years.

Charlie Lewis, AzTE’s vice president for venture development, spoke about ASU’s innovative technology commercialization model last week in a panel discussion at the Innovation Arizona Summit in Scottsdale.

“Under President Crow’s vision for the New American University, tech transfer is a critical mechanism for achieving societal impact from the dissemination of knowledge created by university faculty, researchers and students,” said Lewis. “AzTE has had great success for the decade we’ve operated under our new model, but we’re also not standing still. We recently upgraded our technology marketing process to target a broader range of potential licensees, including more small and medium-sized companies that have demonstrated a willingness to take on – and fund – risky, early-stage offerings.”

The Innovation Arizona Summit was a joint effort between the Arizona SciTech Festival, the MIT Enterprise Forum Phoenix and the Arizona Commerce Authority. More than 900 attendees from business, education, government and the community gathered to discuss areas of collaboration to advance Arizona’s innovation ecosystem.

Derek Sarley,
Arizona Technology Enterprises