MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000


The mission of the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) is to facilitate the transfer to industry of technology from MIT, Lincoln Laboratory, and Whitehead Institute, and thereby to benefit the public good through the development and subsequent sale of commercial products. A secondary goal is to generate unrestricted funds to motivate inventors and to support research and education at MIT. The TLO staff of 29 (14 licensing professionals and 15 administrative and support personnel) are responsible for identifying marketable technologies, managing the patenting and copyrighting of these technologies, finding licensees to develop the technologies and negotiating licenses.

This was an unusually successful year for the Technology Licensing Office, with income of $34.5 million, of which $14.5 million was cash-in of equity (from two companies).

TLO consummated 80 new technology licenses and 22 new option agreements (a total of 102 agreements). The office currently has almost 600 active licensees. The office also granted 59 end-use software licenses and signed up 10 new trademark licensees in FY2000. The TLO licensed 20 new startup companies and granted options to 10 more in the process of starting up.

With almost 600 active licenses in house and about 150 startup companies extant (with equity in about 60 of them), the office expects that royalty streams will continue to mature and companies will reach equity liquidity, but the timing is unpredictable. Studies by others have shown that the average university license that matures into products takes eight years to do so. The stream of new inventions continues at over 350 per year (423 in this fiscal year), refilling the pipeline.

TLO staff are also active contributors to student activities at MIT. These include judging in the "50K" student business plan contest, guest lectures on patents and licensing in a number of Engineering, HST, and Sloan School courses, both undergraduate and graduate, and "open door coaching" for students thinking of starting a business, whether through an MIT license or not.

Senior TLO staff also served pro bono on the boards or senior committees of a number of national, state, and local entrepreneurial and tech transfer organizations.

They have served, usually pro bono, as advisors to over a dozen university or governmental technology transfer officers in a number of countries, in addition to hosting literally dozens of visits from other such organizations and corresponding company departments.

More information about the Technology Licensing Office can be found on the Web at

Lita Nelsen


MIT Reports to the President 1999–2000