MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


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 31 (14 licensing professionals and 17 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 very successful year for the Technology Licensing Office, with income of $18.5 Million, of which $700,000 was cash-in of equity.

We consummated 73 new technology licenses, and 25 new option agreements a considerable increase over FY'97. We currently have 500 active licensees. We also sold 208 end-use software licenses and signed up 18 new trademark licensees in FY '97, and started 14 new companies.

With over 500 active licenses in house and about 125 startup companies extant (with equity in about 30 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 (362 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 1997-98