Interesting news from Those-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named up north: the Sun Devils have signed a deal with U. Penn’s technology transfer office to create a pool of shared patents and work together to sell their ivory tower inventions to the general public. It’s another smart idea from Michael Crow, and another area where the University of Arizona needs to improve, especially in lean times.
Over the past four years, UA has steadily increased patent applications and licensing agreements, and spent more on research and development. Meanwhile, revenue has dropped from a recent high of $1.7 million in 2005 to just $1.1 million last year. Take a look at this table from the Arizona Daily Star:
Issued patents barely breach double-digits at both UA and ASU, but Tempe Normal School is kicking our smug Research I rear when it comes to licenses and cash. Factor in the contribution of Optical Sciences, which filed a full third of UA’s patents last year, according to their whitepaper, and it starts to look a little embarrassing. Seeking higher returns on intellectual property is one of the few smart revenue-generating ideas that doesn’t involve firing secretaries or sharing copy machines. UA ought to pursue it at least as actively as our rivals.
Of course, after gazing at that table, there’s probably one question on your mind: “Isn’t intellectual property a strange, artificial thing created by government fiat that distorts markets, maligns incentives for research, and encourages the kind of noxious rent-seeking that bleeds taxpayers and kills kids in Africa?” Yeah, that’s a good question. But when it comes to our rivalry with the devils from the northern wastes, I say we give no quarter to the rational.