LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas ranked 79th in the world last year among universities receiving U.S. utility patents. This marks the first year KU has ranked in the top 100.
KU was granted 28 such patents in 2014, according to a new report by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. KU now holds a total of 276 U.S. and international patents. More than 300 other KU patent applications are currently pending.
“Patents are an important measure of applied or translational research productivity,” said Rajiv Kulkarni, director of KU Innovation and Collaboration (KUIC), the university’s bi-campus technology commercialization office. “We are committed to improving society through translated research.”
Patents issued to KU represent innovations from across the Lawrence, KU Medical Center and KU Wichita campuses. These patents represent KU’s varied research excellence in such areas as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, engineering, health sciences and information technology.
KU’s intellectual property is protected through KUIC, whose widespread economic development activities include marketing the KU portfolio of technologies to prospective licensees. KUIC has 100 active license agreements, including 32 completed in 2014. Gross revenues from all forms of intellectual property management exceeded $10 million last year.
As part of KU’s overall economic development mission, patents are licensed to companies to develop products that improve society. For example, KU and Irving, Texas-based Reata Pharmaceuticals signed a licensing agreement in 2014 for a lineup of drug technologies developed by Brian Blagg, professor of medicinal chemistry, and Rick Dobrowsky, professor of pharmacology and toxicology. These compounds may offer a solution to diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), a common complication of diabetes. Reata’s resources and experience will help advance these KU discoveries toward testing in clinical trials. The company has continued its relationship with KU by funding research at the university to further contribute to the development of the technologies it has licensed.
“Making the top 100 in new patents for the first time is quite an accomplishment for KU,” Kulkarni said. “It reflects an innovative research community of faculty, staff and students, all performing high-quality research that results in a rising number of invention disclosures with market potential.”