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Licensing of Academic Patents Has Contributed Up to $1.3 Trillion to US Economy

June 26, 2017
The licensing of university research has made a significant contribution to US gross domestic product (GDP), industry gross output, and jobs over the last two decades, according to an independent study commissioned by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).

The report, “The Economic Contribution of University/Nonprofit Inventions in the United States: 1996- 2015,” documents the sizable return that US taxpayers receive on their investment in federally-funded research. It shows that, during a 20-year period, academic patents and the subsequent licensing to industry bolstered US industry gross output by up to $1.33 trillion, US GDP by up to $591 billion, and supported up to 4,272,000 person years of employment.

“Thanks to the enduring effectiveness of the Bayh-Dole Act, American research universities, along with industry partners, are turning federally-funded basic research into new and valuable products that save and improve lives. The commercialization of university-based research to create new companies and good, high-paying jobs is a key driver of America’s innovation economy,” said BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood. “This updated study demonstrates that fact.”



The study, which was conducted by technology transfer experts and former senior economic consultants, is based on data gathered by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) in its annual Licensing Activity Survey. The most recent 2015 survey showed:

  • 1,012 startup companies were formed, averaging 2.75 new companies created every day of the year-- up 11.3% from FY 14;

  • 879 new products based on academic inventions were introduced to the marketplace, averaging 2.4 new products introduced every day of the year;

  • Products based on academic patent licenses generated more than $28.7 billion in net product sales; and

  • 7,942 new licenses and options were executed, up 15% from FY 14. More than 70% of academic patent licenses go to small companies.