Evaluating Universities' Impact on U.S. Economy

Mark Marich

The latest survey from the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) has started to outline the impact of technology transfer on the overall U.S. economy. According to a press release from AUTM:

Total income for all U.S. institutions from running royalties was $1.5 billion, so if it were assumed that all licenses generating running royalties resulted in the same 1.8 percent average royalty rates, total product sales by all licensees of U.S. institutions would have been approximately $80 billion.

Another way of estimating the total impact on the U.S. economy from product sales is that these 2,821 licenses averaged $23.5 million in product sales per license, so if it were assumed that the 9,145 licenses generating running royalties reported by all U.S. institutions also averaged $23.5 million in product sales per license, total product sales by all licensees of U.S. institutions would have been approximately $120 billion.

The survey found a slight up-tick in the number of startups launched (+3%) and maintained (+7%) from tech transfer. However, the number of commercial products created by those companies dropped by 10%.

The total income generated for institutions climbed a bit to $2.5 billion (+2.6%).

AUTM is a nonprofit association of academic technology transfer professionals that surveys North American universities, hospitals and research institutions each year on a host of data points that reveal licensing activity. Examples of the type of information gathered include the number of patents, the number of invention disclosures, the number of startups created and the amount of licensing income received.

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