The University of Michigan experienced a record-breaking year in terms of innovation and research discoveries.
The university's Office of Tech Transfer had its best year to date, announcing Monday that researchers reported the launch of 14 startups, 439 new inventions and 148 option and license agreements for the 2014 fiscal year.
The 439 new inventions were an increase over the 421 from last year, and the 148 agreements were up from 108 a year ago. In the last five years, Tech Transfer has launched 55 startups.
Some of this year's startups include Mia Motors, which makes energy storage and wireless charging systems for electric vehicles, ONL Therapeutics, which is developing therapeutics for retinal diseases, and Court Innovations, creator of online guided negotiations between courts and citizens.
"It is gratifying to see these record-setting metrics for, not just one, but several indicators of tech transfer performance," Ken Nisbet, associate vice president for research–technology transfer, said in a news release.
"This is a reflection of the creativity of our researchers, the resourcefulness of our tech transfer team, and the contributions from our partners in the University, business, government and entrepreneurial communities."
University officials said the record number of agreements this year represents an increase in engagement with large and small companies.
An example is with Wilson Sporting Goods Co. Earlier this year the company licensed wireless motion sensor technology for sports equipment. Michigan Aerospace also licensed a Tech Transfer product that can be used to predict ice formation for airborne and ground applications.
Mark Maynard, the marketing manager at Tech Transfer, said this announcement speaks to the changing culture at the university, and shows that researchers are thinking about the ways their innovations can impact the world beyond of its immediate reach at the university.
"I think these new metrics reflect the recognition on the part of entrepreneurs, companies, and investors that U-M research is solid. Not only are more technologies coming out of U-M, but we're being able to place more of them than even before into the hands of commercialization partners that can help bring them to market," Maynard said.
"...We've been in the top-10 (research institution) for some time with regard to most metrics, and it's just a continuation of that. We'll just keep building on the foundation that we've created. I do think, however, that this will yield good things for the community."
In addition to the record number of inventions and option and license agreements, 132 U.S. patents were issued to the university, up from 128 in the 2013 fiscal year, and $18.5 million in licensing revenues were received, up from $14.4 million in a year ago. The additional funds will be reinvested into research and innovation.
S. Jack Hu, U-M's interim vice president for research, said in a statement: "These results highlight the growing productivity of our faculty in generating innovative ideas through their research. They also show our on-going commitment to making sure that society can realize the benefits of these ideas in the form of new or better products, processes, and services."
U-M startups are launched with the guidance and resources of Tech Transfer's Venture Center. The Venture Center serves as a one-stop hub for entrepreneurs and investors looking for startup opportunities based on U-M research.
The university will recognize the accomplishments of faculty and researchers engaged in the technology transfer process at the 14th annual Celebrate Invention reception, on Oct. 28, at 3 p.m.
Kiosks representing the vast range of innovation and entrepreneurship from U-M Tech Transfer activities will be on display at this event, to be held at the U-M Michigan League Ballroom. Admission is free but registration is required at http://www.techtransfer.umich.edu/registration.