Technology Licensing Office

The mission of the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) is to facilitate the transfer to industry of technology from MIT, Lincoln Laboratory and the 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 financially for the Technology Licensing Office, with income of $82.1 million, of which $55.6 million was cash-in of equity (from two companies).

We consummated 77 new technology licenses and 48 new option agreements (a total of 125 agreements). Twenty-six of these agreements were to new startup companies. We currently have almost 600 active licensees. We also granted 59 end-use software licenses and signed up 10 new trademark licensees in FY2000.

With over 600 active licenses in house and about 160 startup companies extant (with equity in about 60 of them), we can expect 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 400 per year (446 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.

Members of the TLO are actively involved in disseminating our technology transfer and entrepreneurship processes and practices to University of Cambridge and other United Kingdom universities as part of the CMI program. Staff exchanges between the MIT TLO and the University of Cambridge tech transfer office are underway as part of this project.

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 offices in a number of countries and to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, in addition to hosting literally dozens of visits from other such organizations and corresponding company departments.

Lita Nelsen

More information about the Technology Licensing Office can be found online at

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