Universities, Not Companies, Drive Biotech Advancement

A study by Marks & Clerk, an intellectual property firm based in the United Kingdom, has found that during the period between 2002 and 2006, universities like UCSF and public research institutes, rather than private companies, drove advances in biotechnology. The results of the study, released at the BIO conference in Boston, were reported in the Monday, May 7, 2007, edition of the Financial Times. The top three patenting organizations were the Japan Science and Technology Agency with 1,022, the University of California with 543 and the US government with 443. Genentech, the biotech giant spawned by UCSF, was fourth in the world, with 421 patents. Oxford University was the leading European institution. But with only 65 patents, it trailed its American university counterparts by a wide margin. The Marks & Clerk study echoes the 2006 study from the Milken Institute, an independent think tank, which also found that the University of California system averaged the highest level of licensing income annually from its research discoveries in biotechnology. "Mind to Market: A Global Analysis of University Biotechnology Transfer and Commercialization" reviewed how well institutions of higher education do at commercialization, the process of turning intellectual property into business start-ups and licensing income. Within the UC system, UCSF leads in licensing income due to its innovations in medicine and biotechnology. UCSF ranked fourth in the number of biotech research papers and citations, behind Harvard University, the University of Tokyo and the University of London, and ranked second in terms of US biotech patents, after the University of Texas system. From 1997 to 2003, the University of California system was the most successful university in licensing income from its discoveries and inventions, with a total average of about $100 million per year, followed by Stanford University ($50 million) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology ($33 million). * Among US and Canadian universities, the University of California system is runner-up behind MIT in turning knowledge into commercially viable products and start-up companies. * UC ranked first for numbers of US biotech patents issued, with 723 patents between 2000 and 2004. * UC produces the second-highest number of start-up businesses, approximately 20 a year. * Three UC campuses are in the top 10 rankings worldwide as measured by research publications, US patents issued and the commercial impact of the discoveries. They are UCSF (4th), UC San Diego (6th) and UCLA (10th). Harvard University is No. 1 based on the three performance indicators. * One out of every five nanotech patents comes from the UC system.