Technology transfer is slowly bouncing back at Rainforest Innovations


Rainforest Innovations’ achievements in technology transfer for fiscal year 2022 clearly reflect current post-pandemic trends, with entrepreneurial interest from UNM faculty and investor pursuit of academic inventions once again on the rise, but still significantly lower than previous years.

The latest annual metrics for fiscal year 2022, which ended June 30, show that the formation of UNM-related startups and invention disclosures by university researchers are slowly rebounding.

Investors have formed eight new companies to commercialize UNM technologies in the past year. That’s up from four in 2020 and six in 2021. But that’s still well below the annual average of nearly a dozen startups between 2016 and 2019.

And new licensing deals allowing investors to commercialize UNM technology remain depressed, with just 41 licenses signed last year, down from 53 in 2019.

Likewise, faculty invention disclosures have increased somewhat, from 81 in 2021 to 94 last year. This is essential, as these disclosures provide the pipeline of new technologies needed by Rainforest Innovations to pursue patents, which they then license to entrepreneurs to bring to market.

But disclosures remain well below the pre-pandemic average of 115 professor inventions per year between 2016 and 2020.

And that, in turn, has led to far fewer patents filed by Rainforest Innovations, reflecting three years of steady decline since 2019.

“Patent applications reflect activity with faculty disclosure rates,” said Lisa Kuuttila, President and CEO of Rainforest Innovations. “If that breaks down, the patent work breaks down.”

Still, with somewhat rising disclosure rates and the formation of startups gradually increasing, tech transfer activity is rebounding, Kuuttila said.

“We’re not at pre-pandemic levels, but things are looking up,” she said. “We are seeing a lot more activity from investors and entrepreneurs looking at our technology portfolio. We are now responding to many new requests, with one or two calls per week. »

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