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Biotech Technology Transfer: Creates Wealth and Jobs?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 1:18 am
by Nate W.
Dear Forum,

As many of you know, technology spun off from academia in the fields of computer sciences and engineering has created enormous wealth and professional opportunities for scientists in those fields. However, what about the life sciences. Just how successful are technology transfer offices at Universities where there are large investments in biomedical research. I am member of a local biotech trade group that makes many claims about economic development. They and the local newspapers often tout the success of local technology transfer offices in terms of wealth and job creation. However, I am skeptical of these claims. So, I have decided to investigate this locally and in my home state of Texas. In the local metro area, the local medical school and universities have spun off 14 start-up biotech related companies since 1993. Only one of these companies, founded in 2011, is still in existence and laid off about 100 employees after their clinic trials failed in 2013. The rest of these companies moved, failed, or got bought out. One moved to the Bay Area, one got bought out by Teva, and the rest failed. This is in a huge metro area with a tremendous medical school and in a state that makes huge investments in academic biomedical research. Further, Texas ranks 2nd in the number of clinical trials and 1st in the number of hospitals. Yet there is virtually no biotech companies in this state. The state of Texas has $235 million in life sciences VC money and Boston has $1.9 billion . So this bring me to this Bloomberg report about technology transfer using AUTM data. It shows that only a select few offices in the US are profitable and most can't even cover the cost of their operations. In Texas, only one was profitable out of eleven offices.

http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2016- ... y-patents/

Right now, I am collaborating with the founder of the company that was bought out by TEVA. We are trying to figure out how local private sector investors, equity groups, and experienced venture capital professionals can help the local technology transfer offices in this state. So, my question for this audience is why do you think these offices aren't more profitable and productive in terms of generating wealth, start-up companies, and jobs?

Also, if a technology transfer office is profitable, how does it reinvest its revenues?