Shift of tech transfer to campuses streamlines workflow, leverages expertise

By Staff

On Friday, the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office will transition from a CU system office to a campus oversight structure that will leverage campus-specific expertise and maximize efficiency.

Key licensing professionals at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus and CU Boulder are already organized so that industry and faculty needs on each campus are addressed. Under the structural change, those professionals will now report to campus-level leadership to align each campus’s vision for innovation and industry partnerships with the needs of researchers on those campuses.

The CU Anschutz Medical Campus will build on life sciences research, work with the pharmaceutical and medical device industries and pursue clinical trials that will improve patient care. The Boulder campus is focused on exploring innovation through its world-class physics, biosciences, aerospace and engineering programs.

CU Boulder will serve the tech transfer needs for the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus operation will handle requests for CU Denver.

“Because each campus is exploring how it can best advance the efforts of its unique faculty, innovators and business leaders, moving to a campus-based technology transfer operation with shared support services provides greater opportunities for success and collaboration with the private sector,” said University Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Regents Patrick O’Rourke.

Established in 2001, the CU Technology Transfer Office has become an integral part of Colorado’s innovation ecosystem. As Colorado’s Front Range accelerates into one of the top entrepreneurial communities, CU inventors and innovators have a significant impact in health care, science, engineering, education and the environment.

In fiscal 2015, proof-of-concept funding led to the creation of 20 CU startup companies and over $260 million in follow-on funding. From fiscal year 2006 to 2015, CU Tech Transfer:

  • Reviewed 2,362 invention disclosures
  • Filed 869 U.S. patent applications
  • Negotiated 579 license agreements
  • Generated nearly $124 million in licensing revenue

Vice Chancellor for Research Terri Fiez came to CU Boulder last fall from Oregon State University in Corvallis, where she had become known for creating robust industry partnerships and a framework for collaboration.

“We are excited to have Technology Transfer as part of the CU Boulder Research and Innovation Office,” Fiez said. “We are even more committed to making it easy and efficient for our industry licensing partners, and to supporting our faculty in translating innovative discoveries into impact for the broader community.”

The CU Anschutz Medical Campus has emerged during the past decade as an engine of economic growth for the state, providing more than $5.6 billion total economic impact. Since 2002, over 1,900 patent applications and more than 50 start-up companies have been formed based on intellectual property developed on the campus.

“We are confident that the new campus-based CU Anschutz Innovations office will build on the successes of the university’s technology transfer efforts while making it easier for researchers and industry to work together,” said Steve VanNurden, executive director of biotechnology relationships for CU Anschutz Medical Campus. VanNurden came to Colorado in 2012 from the Mayo Clinic, where he oversaw a technology licensing and commercialization enterprise.

Some technology-transfer support functions, such as legal services and accounting, will continue to be shared systemwide.

CU Associate Vice President Kate Tallman, who formerly led the Technology Transfer Office at the system level, is transitioning to a new role in the private sector where she will continue to assist advanced technology companies and research institutions in the commercialization of their innovations.

“The University of Colorado owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Kate for the technology transfer leadership she provided for more than a decade,” O’Rourke said. “Kate has been instrumental in promoting technologies that have generated millions of dollars to advance the university’s research mission, working to create dozens of new companies and hundreds of jobs in Colorado, and in bringing university research to the marketplace.”