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Tech Transfer Tidbits: Feb 18, 2009


Kauffman Foundation Study Examines Economic Impact of MIT-Alum Companies

A study released this week by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation examines the economic effect of companies founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni and the school's entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The study demonstrates the critical role universities play in fostering innovation and entrepreneurial growth and stimulating regional and global economies, Kauffman said.

According to the study, entitled "Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT," if the active companies founded by MIT graduates formed an independent nation, their revenues would make that nation at least the seventeenth-largest economy in the world.

Within the US, these companies currently generate hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs to regional economies, particularly those in Massachusetts and California, Kauffman said.

Edward Roberts and Charles Eesley of the MIT Sloan School of Management conducted the study, which is based on a 2003 survey of all living MIT alumni, with additional detailed analyses, including recent verification and updating revenue and employment figures to 2006.

The research findings were released at a briefing on Capitol Hill this week hosted by the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship, whose mission is to advance innovation and catalyze economic growth beyond small business to debates on science, technology, engineering and research.

Other findings include:

• An estimated 6,900 MIT alumni companies with worldwide sales of approximately $164 billion are located in Massachusetts alone and represent 26 percent of the sales of all Massachusetts companies.

• 4,100 MIT alumni-founded firms are based in California, and generate an estimated $134 billion in worldwide sales.

• States currently benefiting most from jobs created by MIT alumni companies are Massachusetts (estimated at just under one million jobs worldwide); California (526,000 jobs); New York (231,000 jobs); Texas (184,000 jobs); and Virginia (136,000 jobs).

"MIT's significant economic impact is of particular interest because it provides an important model for universities interested in helping their students become more effective entrepreneurs," Lesa Mitchell, a vice president of the Kauffman Foundation, said in a statement.

The full summary of the report can be found on the Kauffman Foundation's website.

BioAMPS Int'l Licenses Antimicrobial Tech from University of Colorado

Colorado-based biotech firm BioAMPS International has exclusively licensed a family of antimicrobial peptides from the University of Colorado, BioAMPS and CU said this week.

BioAMPS will use the peptides, which were created by two University of Colorado Denver researchers and a collaborator at the University of British Columbia, to develop improved treatments for common, potentially lethal drug-resistant bacterial infections.

The company will also receive a $100,000 Proof-of-Concept Investment from the CU Technology Transfer Office. CU’s Proof-of-Concept Investments are designed to help support the commercialization of promising CU technology.

Antimicrobial peptides are broad-spectrum antibiotics that have been shown to kill bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics without inducing further drug resistance.

The compounds developed at CU have been engineered to eliminate some known toxicities of previously developed antimicrobial peptides, and have also been recently shown to be effective against tuberculosis and fungi species, CU said.

BioAMPS, based at Aurora’s Science and Technology Park at Fitzsimons, intends to develop antimicrobial peptides to treat drug-resistant gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria associated with both community-acquired and hospital-acquired infections.

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Endo Pharma Inks Research Pact with Harvard in Pain, Cancer Rxs

Endo Pharmaceuticals said last week that it has signed a research collaboration with Harvard University to develop novel treatments for pain and to discover potential treatments for cancer.

Under the terms of the agreement, Endo will receive exclusive worldwide rights to the technology and be responsible for development and commercialization of any drug candidates discovered under the agreement.

Additional financial terms were not disclosed.

The collaboration is based on a new pain-drug-delivery technique discovered by Clifford Woolf, a professor of anesthesia research at Harvard Medical School's Massachusetts General Hospital, and Bruce Bean, a professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. The technique targets pain-sensing neurons without affecting motor neurons, Endo said.

Concurrent with the announcement, Endo said that it had also signed a three-year collaboration with Aurigene Discovery Technologies to discover novel drug candidates to treat cancer.

Galapagos Wins $1M from Flanders Gov't; Will Partner with FIB on Drug Targets

Galapagos said last week that it has been awarded a €837,000 ($1.05 million) grant from the Flanders government through the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology.

Galapagos will collaborate on this two-year project with the Structural Biology Brussels group at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology.

Researchers from both organizations will work together to elucidate the structure of novel drug targets and related small molecules in Galapagos' bone and joint disease portfolio. The information will help Galapagos to design potent and selective drugs and thus potentially improve their efficacy to treat bone and joint diseases, Galapagos said.

"This grant gives us an opportunity to collaborate with the VIB's top structural biology group, thereby adding to our drug discovery capabilities," Graham Dixon, senior vice president of drug discovery for Galapagos, said in a statement.

MSU Technologies Begins Marketing IP Online

Michigan State University said last week that it has begun listing and marketing its technologies available for licensing online through MSU Technologies, the university's tech-transfer and commercialization arm.

Accessible through the MSUT home page, more than 140 technologies are now listed in topical and keyword-searchable formats, MSUT said. Each listing contains a brief description of the technology, describes its potential benefits and possible applications, and provides links to patents that have been obtained. A direct e-mail link to an appropriate MSU Technologies staff member is also included for those who want to request more information or to enter into licensing discussions.

More technologies will be added in coming months as they are developed and screened for their commercial potential, Mike Poterala, the office’s executive director, said in a statement.

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Pfizer Canada to Fund Organ Failure Research at PROOF Centre of Excellence

Pfizer Canada and the Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research said last week that they will collaborate to develop treatments for the failure of vital organs such as the heart, lung, and kidney.

Pfizer Canada will contribute $1 million to the PROOF Centre to fund research into biomarkers for vital organ failure. The PROOF Centre said that the funding will eventually expand to cover relevant projects to translate the biomarkers into clinical practice.

The PROOF Centre, hosted by the University of British Columbia, received nearly $15 million in federal funding from the Canadian government in February 2008. It is one of 11 Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research announced by Canada's government in 2008 as part of the Networks of Centres of Excellence program.

DuPont to Commercialize University of Delaware Disease-Resistant Corn Variety

The University of Delaware said last week that it has reached a commercial agreement with DuPont regarding a previously established multi-year, corn disease resistance research collaboration.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

UD professor of plant and soil sciences James Hawk and colleagues have fine-mapped the gene that provides resistance to the fungus Colletotrichum graminicola, which causes anthracnose stalk rot, and have developed molecular markers under a collaborative research agreement with DuPont.

DuPont scientists are using the markers in high-throughput genetic technology to move the gene into a wide variety of elite commercial germplasm. Intellectual property protection is pending on the discoveries of the collaboration and on the corn lines developed by Hawk.

DuPont's seed business, Pioneer Hi-Bred, is now marketing Pioneer brand hybrid 34F26, the first corn hybrid in North America to carry the disease-resistance trait. Additional hybrids carrying the trait are being evaluated for 2010.

Southeast TechInventures Signs Master Licensing Agreement with UNC-Chapel Hill

Southeast TechInventures said this week that it has signed a master licensing agreement with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The agreement’s goal is to streamline negotiations and accelerate the acquisition of intellectual property. STI, based in Research Triangle Park, partners with university-based inventors to commercialize promising technologies.

STI uses Small Business Innovation Research grants and other government and corporate funds to further develop technology. STI said that its proof-of-concept and prototype development model is demonstrated in its SBIR grant success rate, which it said is twice the national average.

The company has thus far worked with universities to form 17 spinout companies in the areas of life sciences, medical devices, diagnostics, photonics, optoelectronics, materials, and IT.

“[STI] supports inventors through the entire early-stage commercialization process,” Cathy Innes, director of the Office of Technology Transfer at UNC Chapel Hill, said in a statement. “Their proven success in this arena aligns with our strong tradition of fundamental and applied research, licensing, and transferring technology into the marketplace.” and University of Oklahoma Launch Tech-Transfer Workflow App and the University of Oklahoma this week announced the launch of the InnovationQ Technology Transfer Workflow application for OU's Intellectual Property Management Office.

The system was designed to improve decision-making, secure IP records, and enhance the marketing of university intellectual property to prospective licensees, said.

InnovationQ helps companies to legally safeguard their intellectual property, derive more value from ideas, and speed the monetization of innovation. With streamlined processes, collaboration tools, and a secure system for managing innovation, the application protects and enhances intellectual property from its conception, the company said.

The Scan

Taking Stock of the Stockpile

The US and European countries are evaluating their smallpox vaccine stockpiles as the number of monkeypox cases increases, the Washington Post reports.

Vitamin D From Tomatoes

According to Reuters, researchers in the UK have gene-edited tomatoes so their fruit contains vitamin D.

Cause Not Yet Spotted

NPR reports that a new study was unable to find a cause for persistent long COVID symptoms.

PNAS Papers on Central African Hunter-Gatherers, Myopia Development, Ancient Microtia Allele

In PNAS this week: population patterns among Central African hunter gatherers, effect of myopia-linked gene variant, and more.