MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


The mission of the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) is to facilitate the transfer to industry of technology from M.I.T., 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 a very successful year for the Technology Licensing Office, with income of $19.9 Million, of which $3.3 million was cash-in of equity (from three companies).

We consummated 69 new technology licenses, and 28 new option agreements (a total of 97 agreements). We currently have 500 active licensees. We also granted 110 end-use software licenses and signed up 28 new trademark licensees in FY 1997. We licensed 20 new startup companies and granted options to 7 more in the process of starting up.

With over 500 active licenses in house and about 140 startup companies extant (with equity in about 50 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 350 per year (385 in this fiscal year), refilling the pipeline.

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, 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 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, China, 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 Web at

Lita Nelsen

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99