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K-State Today

December 2, 2011



Licensed for profit: Institute for Commercialization markets technologies developed at Kansas State University

By Communications and Marketing

When Kansas State University researchers develop new technologies, the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, KSU-IC, goes to work marketing the technologies in hopes of reaching a signed license agreement, with product sales in the marketplace soon after. Moreover, the institute's efforts are paying big dividends to both the researchers and K-State.

In 1995 the institute, formerly known as NISTAC, entered into a contractual relationship with the Kansas State University Research Foundation, KSURF, to commercialize K-State's intellectual property portfolio. From that point on, the institute's and K-State's relationship has flourished. The research foundation continues to maintain its responsibility of managing the intellectual property portfolio of the university, with the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization serving as the research foundation's commercialization agent.

During the past 10 years, licensing efforts have generated approximately $12 million in direct revenue back to the university. Last year alone, the commercialization institute's efforts produced about $2.3 million from the combination of licensing income and facilitated sponsor research awards.

"In the past, NISTAC has helped Kansas State University commercialize the research we generate," said Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz. "As we look toward becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025, the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization will continue to play a huge role in helping us to achieve this goal, as well as many others."

The licensing process does not happen overnight. Often times the research foundation files a provisional patent, which allows a one-year window before a full patent application must be filed. Full issuance of a patent can take up to three or four years. During the interim, the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization reaches out to industry to gauge interest and to learn about the technology's future market potential. Meetings and discussions are conducted with the inventor and interested companies with the hope of obtaining sponsored research or a signed license.

"It's really hard work," said Kent Glasscock, the institute's president. "The monetization process often takes at least 12 months from initial marketing to a signed license agreement."

One of the recently issued patents is a result of stem cell research completed at Kansas State University by Deryl Troyer and Mark Weiss, professors of anatomy and physiology; Duane Davis, professor of animal sciences and industry; and Kathy Mitchell, a former K-State professor. The patent addresses procedures used to obtain stem cells found in a substance in the umbilical cord. An East Coast biotech company exclusively licensed this technology.

The university's research and patents range from the development of methods and applications for pest management to antennas for satellite-based navigation systems and everything in between. The Institute for Commercialization staff, which is made up entirely of Kansas State University graduates, has the talent and ability to work with a wide variety of research and successfully monetize at a rate above their peer institutions, Glasscock said.

"What we have are extremely gifted staff members who are passionate about their institution and work very hard to creatively extract the maximum value out of each opportunity," he said.

And that is just what they have done. The institute has helped make the university's licensing efforts one of the leaders in the Big 12. After returning from a Big 12 meeting, Ron Trewyn, K-State's vice president for research, had the opportunity to see what everyone else in the conference was doing.

"Kansas State University is leveraging faculty capabilities, not just intellectual property," Trewyn said. "The efforts we made when we started in 1995 and continue to make today have put our university in an advantageous position to license our research and technology."