MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


The mission of the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) is to facilitate the transfer of technology from MIT (and the Whitehead Institute) to industry, 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 26 (11 licensing professionals and 14 administrative and support personnel) are responsible for identifying marketable technologies, managing the patenting and copyrighting of these technologies, finding licenses to develop the technologies and negotiating licenses.

This was a record-breaking year for the Technology Licensing Office, with income of $21.2 Million, of which $5.7 Million was cash-in of equity. (The previous record year was FY '92, with $16.2 Million, of which $8.9 Million was cash-in of equity.) The remaining $15.0 Million of non-equity-related income in FY '97 was a very substantial increase over FY '96 of $10.2 Million.

The increase was due to a number of major events, in addition to continuing business, including cash-in of equity in three startup companies and substantial increases in royalties from several products on the market.

We consummated 59 new technology licenses, and 11 new option agreements. We currently have 455 active licensees. We also sold 96 end-use software licenses and signed up 20 new trademark licensees in FY '97, and started 8 new companies.

With 455 active licenses in house and about 115 startup companies extant (with equity in about 25 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 constant at about 350 per year (359 in this fiscal year), refilling the pipe line.

TLO staff are also active contributors to student activities at MIT These include participation in the "50K" student business plan contest, guest lectures on patents and licensing in a number of Engineering, H.S.T. 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 state, national 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 the U.S., Brazil, Hungary, Argentina, Taiwan, Japan and Germany, in addition to hosting literally dozens of visits from other such organizations and corresponding company departments in our own offices.

More information about the Technology Licensing Office can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Lita Nelsen

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97