academic research innovation

Academic research fueling impressive gains for economy, industry survey shows

The number of invention disclosures–a direct measure of institutional impact on innovation–has been on the rise the past five years, reaching 25,825 in 2016.

An annual survey of 195 universities, hospitals and other research institutions nationwide shows that more than ever, academic research is fueling impressive gains for local, state and national economies, with the formation of a record 1,024 startup companies in 2016, according to findings in the Association of University Technology Managers’ (AUTM) 2016 Annual Licensing ActivitySurvey.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • The number of invention disclosures–a direct measure of institutional impact on innovation–has been on the rise the past five years, reaching 25,825 in 2016.
  • 16,487 new U.S. patent applications were filed, a gain of nearly 3.4 percent, and 7,021 U.S. patents were issued in 2016, up 5.1 percent, as research institutions invest and protect intellectual property arising from academic research.
  • A record 1,024 startups were formed, making a direct impact on local economies, with more than 73 percent of the new businesses remaining in their institution’s home state.
  • Consumers and businesses benefited from 800 new products.

Every year, universities around the globe develop inventions–more than 380,000 in the last 26 years–that have real-world, sometimes life-changing, applications. These innovations are licensed by university technology transfer offices to companies for commercialization, and are the genesis of thousands of new companies, resulting in both benefits to society and solid economic wins.

During a 20-year period, academic patents and the subsequent licensing to industry bolstered U.S. industry gross output by up to $1.33 trillion, U.S. GDP by up to $591 billion, and supported up to 4.3 million person years of employment, according to an independent study commissioned by AUTM and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). The report, “The Economic Contribution of University/Nonprofit Inventions in the United States: 1996-2015,” was released in June.

The 2016 Licensing Survey also revealed impressive double-digit gains in several areas including a 33.6 percent increase in new, non-U.S. patent applications, which AUTM President Mary Albertson says reflects a more international approach to the protection of intellectual property.

“While academic technology transfer in the U.S. continues to be emulated worldwide, the global nature of commercialization is reflected in this dramatic increase in non-U.S. patent applications by U.S. entities,” Albertson said. “There are many reasons, including a wider dissemination of U.S. inventions worldwide and a desire for stronger patent rights outside the United States because of recent anti-patent case law and legislation.”

About the Survey
The AUTM Licensing Activity Survey gathered data on a broad sample of U.S. research institutions including 165 universities, 29 hospitals and one technology transfer firm. The report has been conducted annually by AUTM for the past 26 years and is available on the AUTM website. Also available is AUTM’s newly-released 2017 infographic on driving the innovation economy.

About AUTM
The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) is a nonprofit leader in educating, developing, promoting and inspiring technology transfer practitioners throughout their careers to support the development of innovations that change the world. AUTM’s global community of 3,200 members represents businesses and government organizations, and more than 350 universities, research institutions and teaching hospitals. To learn more about AUTM, visit

eCampus News Staff

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