Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, February 4, 2011

Reallocation of intellectual property revenues increases funding for campus entrepreneurs and researchers

Faculty and students will benefit from a decision made by the president and the provost with the vice president for research that doubles the share of intellectual property revenues used to support research initiatives across campus.

Until last month, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) split the intellectual property revenues that came to the university's central administration from royalties and equity sales.

Going forward, OVPR will retain the entire central administration share of intellectual property revenues, which will be reinvested in programs to encourage entrepreneurship, promote research initiatives in emerging areas and enhance learning experiences for students, says Stephen Forrest, vice president for research.

In a typical year, OVPR now will receive about $2 million from intellectual property revenues. The change is the result of discussions between Forrest, Provost Philip Hanlon and President Mary Sue Coleman.

"This is yet another way we are accelerating the entrepreneurial culture that has taken hold of our campus. We want our faculty and students to have as many resources as possible at their disposal as they develop new ideas, products and technologies," Coleman says.

"This new funding arrangement benefits the state, the university's faculty and our students," Hanlon says. "These additional resources will be a catalyst for innovative research by faculty members, will support students as they learn to take ideas from the drawing board to the market, and will strengthen the university's connections with economic development activities throughout the state."  

Among other purposes, the funds will be used to support initiatives like Tech Transfer's recently launched Venture Accelerator. The accelerator, based at the North Campus Research Complex, provides space and resources for new businesses based on U-M technology.

"It's a big step for the university," Forrest says of the new funding arrangement. "It will provide additional support for faculty who want to start companies, as well as new opportunities for students, while allowing the Office of the Vice President for Research to invest in new research initiatives that will position our faculty to take advantage of emerging areas of scholarship."

The additional intellectual property revenues also will provide support for Tech Transfer's Venture Center and the Business Engagement Center.

The Venture Center helps U-M entrepreneurs refine business models, attract investors, acquire gap funding and connect to talent that enhances their companies' quality and sustainability. It also features a mentorship program that teams experienced entrepreneurs with faculty inventors who are attempting to launch companies.

The Business Engagement Center helps strengthen the university's ties to its business and community partners, which in turn help revitalize and diversify Michigan's economy.

The funds also will benefit U-M students, in part by supporting Tech Transfer's TechStart internship program. The program provides internships to graduate students who work in small, multidisciplinary teams on technology commercialization projects, with input from Tech Transfer staff, faculty inventors and industry mentors.

"This is all part of the university's core mission of engaging with the private sector," Forrest says. "We can, and must, make a difference to the economic health of our state, and these initiatives help us advance that goal."

Finally, consistent with OVPR's broad purview, the new funds will augment the support of research initiatives in the humanities and social sciences, the arts, and science and technology, Forrest says.