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Bioscience the 800-Pound Gorilla of Academic Tech Transfer

SAN FRANCISCO, June 14 - The next 10 years could emerge as the 'bioscience decade' when measured by the amount of biotechnology that flows from the university to the marketplace, according to industry experts.


"I think the next decade will be all bioscience," said Larry Gilbert, director of tech transfer at the California Institute of Technology. "Many technologies, but all with a bioscience application. It's where the interest is."


About 40 percent of the hundred or so patents that Cal Tech files every year are  biotech-related, and the institute itself is the third-most prolific academic patent filer behind MIT and Stanford University, said Gilbert. 

Speaking on a panel at the IBF Venture Capital Investing conference held here earlier this week, Gilbert said the number pf patent filings is high in relation to the size of the actual biology group on campus, and said the institute's substantial computational capabilities can be thanked for that.


Indeed, funding for physical and life-sciences technology has converged and is leading up to a point at which the technology dominates many areas of academic entrepreneurship, according to Keith Crandell, managing director of ARCH Venture Partners of Chicago.


"Evolution has been underway for years, [but] applications have gotten to the point which may be revolutionary," said Crandell.


Venture capitalists have taken note.


"Universities are continually a pipeline of innovation," said Jonah Schnel, managing director of ITU Ventures of Beverly Hills, Calif. "We work to ingratiate ourselves with professors and tech-transfer departments" to catch new technology.

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