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Research and technology transfer realize award-winning year

The University experienced an award-winning year for its research and technology transfer initiatives in 2002. U-M also saw research expenditures grow for the 20th straight year, to $656 million, a 10.8 percent increase from 2001, Fawwaz Ulaby, vice president for research, told the Board of Regents Jan. 16 in delivering his annual research report.

 
Deepak Baskar conducts research in Dr. Kevin McDonagh's lab. (Photo by MArtin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

"Thanks to the creativity and hard work of our faculty, staff, students, administrative support and financial investment provided by the institution, the University enjoyed another award-winning year for its research and technology transfer initiatives in 2002," Ulaby said.

The report notes that the Institute for Scientific Information ranked U-M ninth in the impact of research at the top 100 federally funded universities in the nation, as measured by citations in research papers. Furthermore, the Office for Technology Transfer was the only university technology office to be recognized by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) with an award for Exemplary Success in Commercializing Technology and Promoting Entrepreneurship in Michigan.

Research highlights for 2002 include:

• A 17 percent boost in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services represents the largest such increase in more than 10 years

• The University allocated more than $100 million for research, a 6 percent increase from the previous year

• Research awards reached $741 million, an increase of about $50 million from 2001

• U-M faculty conducted some $9 million in research with Michigan Life Sciences Corridor funding

• While federal research and development spending increased 6.8 percent over the previous year, the University's outstripped that rate of growth with a 12.4 percent increase in federal R&D funding

"It is extremely gratifying to see continued robust growth in research activity," Provost Paul N. Courant said. "Our faculty and students are creating new knowledge and insight every day, knowledge that shapes what happens in the classroom and in the broader community."

President Mary Sue Coleman said, "The strength of the University's sponsored research is truly breathtaking. In addition to the remarkable growth in research support from the federal government, I am especially pleased to note the University's role in the Life Sciences Corridor, which supports applied research that we expect to be of special benefit to the state and the state's economy."

Ulaby also reported on the continuing transformation of the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT), and the University's goal to rank among the top five technology programs nationwide by 2006. By that date, the goals call for annual activity at the University to reach 300 patent disclosures, 100 licenses, 15 start-ups and $10 million to $15 million in revenues, Ulaby said.

Recently, the University took an important step to improve its technology transfer efforts by appointing a National Advisory Board to help guide U-M's activities in commercializing technology. The board consists of 13

individuals selected from across the United States with backgrounds in entrepreneurship, venture capital, industry research, finance, government and law.

Since 1996, OTT has increased staff and quadrupled its budget for protecting intellectual property. Two satellite offices have been established in Medicine and Engineering. Revenues in the three-year period 1999—2002 reached $21.4 million, almost double the $10.9 million in revenues in 1995—98. Over those same three-year comparison periods, start-ups more than doubled from 10 to 24, patents increased from 172 to 254, licensing agreements from 171 to 222 and disclosures from 584 to 745.


In choosing 12 start-ups to honor in Dec. 2002, the MEDC included three that enjoyed assistance from OTT,Velcura Therapeutics, Quantum Signal and Nephros Therapeutics.

 

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