U of M Spins Off 8 Co’s in ’10, Related Revenue Down

The university's technology commercialization brought in $75.2 million in revenue in fiscal 2010-down 21 percent from last year due mostly to the expiration of several foreign patents related to an AIDS treatment.

The University of Minnesota spun out more companies in fiscal 2010 than it did in any of the previous five years-but revenue from technology commercialization was down from last year, according to the university's annual research report released Monday.

The university's Office of Technology Commercialization is charged with translating research conducted within its walls into new products and services that benefit the public and generate revenue to support its research and education goals. But the U of M has been criticized in recent years for not doing more to commercialize its technology or intellectual property. Four years ago, it implemented a new commercialization structure and staff in order to help boost efforts in that area, but some critics still say it should be doing more.

In fiscal 2010, the university's technology commercialization brought in $75.2 million in revenue-down 21 percent from $95.2 million during the previous year. According to the university report, the decline was mostly due to the expiration of several foreign patents related to Ziagen, a blockbuster AIDS treatment licensed to GlaxoSmithKline that has accounted for the majority of the U of M's commercialization revenue in recent years. The university expects “a steady decline over the next two years” as a result of the patent expirations.

Meanwhile, eight startups based on university research launched in fiscal 2010, up from three in fiscal 2009. The university also signed 67 new license deals, up from 44 in fiscal 2009. The U of M filed for 66 U.S. patents in fiscal 2010, almost even with 65 last year.

The eight startups that launched in fiscal 2010, along with a brief description of each, are:

  • R8Scan: Developing an innovative cytometry instrument that tracks and measures individual cells; information generated aims to improve production processes in biotechnology, as well as drug discovery and development.
  • Hennepin Life Sciences: Working to develop and market a safe and effective treatment that will change the way women and health-care professionals approach the prevention and treatment of vaginal infections, with a specific emphasis on sexually transmitted diseases.
  • CaSTT (Commerce and Search for Technology Transfer): An e-commerce and marketing framework for technology transfer offices in universities and research institutions; includes a shopping cart, search-engine optimization, and a license agreement terms- and conditions-builder that will accelerate marketing and selling efforts.
  • Miromatrix: Commercializing the groundbreaking tissue-engineering research of Dr. Doris Taylor; the technology holds the promise of one day enabling the replacement of entire human organs with non-transplantable organs, harvested from either animals or donors, which are stripped of their cells and recellularized with cells from the recipient or compatible donor cells.
  • NeurEndo Pharma: An early-stage pharmaceutical development company focused on the evaluation and development of compounds for the treatment of obesity and pre-diabetes management.
  • Early Learning Labs: Marketing a tool for monitoring ongoing growth and development of preschool children; the tool is a combination of test kit and a Web-based management and reporting framework and is designed for schools, teachers, and early education specialists.
  • XO Thermix: Creating a medical device with exothermic ablation technology coupled with novel balloon-delivery techniques; first product will be a medical device that treats chronic venous insufficiency with a significant reduction In procedure time, which could lower cost and patient discomfort compared to current treatments.
  • NewWater: Will offer a biocatalyst-based drinking water filtration technology that can reduce atrazine concentrations to acceptable levels; atrazine is a selective herbicide that's widely used by farmers in the United States to control broadleaf weeds and grasses.