Washington University sets records in innovation, entrepreneurship

During the past fiscal year, the Washington University in St. Louis Office of Technology Management (OTM) reported a number of record figures as a result of the innovative technologies developed by university faculty.

In fiscal year 2017, which concluded June 30, OTM saw record numbers in the following areas: patent filings, invention disclosures, revenue-generating agreements and new startup companies.

“Over the past year, our office has made a commitment to providing increased outreach to university faculty,” OTM Director Nichole Mercier said. “The results have been fantastic, as faculty members have come back with new inventions that show tremendous commercial potential.”

For the fourth consecutive year, OTM reported increases in both patent filings and novel invention disclosures from university inventors.

The 324 patents filed on university inventions in fiscal 2017 represent a 22 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. In addition, Washington University was listed on the National Academy of Inventors’ (NAI) Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2016, ranking 49th, with 48 granted U.S. patents. That ranking was up from 88th (27 granted patents) on the 2015 NAI list.

There were also a record 205 novel invention disclosures submitted by university faculty to OTM in fiscal 2017, representing a 16 percent increase from the previous year. This steady stream of new disclosures allowed OTM to finalize a record-high 108 for-fee agreements during the year. These agreements generated $16.9 million in revenue for the university and its inventors.

Washington University also continued its push for entrepreneurism, as university faculty launched eight new startup companies in fiscal 2017.

This marked a record high for startups launched in a given fiscal year. In total, 19 new startup companies have been launched during the past three fiscal years.

“It’s exciting to see more and more of our faculty members pursuing commercialization via startup company formation,” Mercier said. “These past few years have seen a substantial increase in the amount of entrepreneurial activity among both faculty and students. It’s always rewarding to see university IP being taken into the marketplace, and more importantly, having the potential to benefit society.”

Since 2015, OTM has worked to increase the number of faculty startups with the inception of its Quick Start License for faculty inventors. The streamlined approach makes the licensing process easier, allowing university IP to be commercialized faster.

OTM continues taking steps to encourage startup companies, such as strategic partnerships with both university and external partners, all of which provide faculty members with the resources and opportunities to create successful businesses.

These new startup companies are based primarily on Washington University intellectual property and were launched in fiscal 2017 (July 2016-June 2017). Listed are the company names, the Washington University employees associated with the company and/or its base technology.

ATM Cardiac Diagnostics/R. Martin Arthur, Scott Marrus, Jason Trobaugh (Engineering)

Noninvasive cardiac evaluation (NICE) software combines data such as ultrasound images, electrical activity and anatomical data to inform clinicians about a patient’s heart health.

AVVI Biotech/Dan Barouch, MD, PhD; Scott Handley; Rachel Presti, PhD, MD; Larissa Thackray; Herbert “Skip” Virgin, PhD, MD; David Wang; Guoyan Zhao (Medicine) 

AVVI Biotech is focused on developing novel recombinant adenoviruses that can be used to express promising vaccine candidates.

CalPACT/Lihong Wang (Engineering)

CalPACT is working to provide imaging systems based on Wang’s photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) technology. This imaging modality provides information about anatomy and physiology in a nonradiative way, making it ideal for screening or longitudinal studies. Wang is now at the California Institute of Technology.

DxGPS LLC/Victor Song, Ze-Zhong Ye (Medicine)

Known as Diffusion Basis Spectrum Imaging, this imaging technique detects disease and/or injury within the central nervous system.

 Precision Virologics/David Curiel, PhD, MD; Igor Dmitriev (Medicine)

Precision Virologics’ adenovirus vaccines provide a new approach to the expanding threat of emerging infectious diseases, such as Zika and dengue.