Tuesday, October 24, 2006

University tech transfer in Houston

The Milken Institute recently released a study (full report pdf) on university technology transfer and commercialization, with a particular focus on biotech. It includes several interesting rankings. The news is mixed. Unfortunately, Houston as a city didn't do so well, but Rice did extremely well, and Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas system were also recognized and did well in certain categories.

First, the excerpt on Rice:
Rice University ranks within the top 10 in three of our innovation pipeline measure. It is the top school for patents filed per million dollars of Research Expenditures and patents filed per Invention Disclosure; and ranks ninth, as shown in the table below, for the number of Startups per Million Dollars of Research Expenditures. Nila Bhakuni, Director of Rice University’s OTT, attributes the ranking to “the culture and attitude of the managers of this institution who support commercialization, a goal that has been in place since the OTT opened in 1998.” She noted that Rice has had “a very large number of filings” in nanotechnology and that the university’s business, natural sciences and engineering schools have partnered in the “Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship,” a program to educate faculty and the Houston business community.
Some other interesting local facts from the study:
  • Baylor College of Medicine ranked 16th globally on biotech publication, right between Cambridge and Oxford. Not bad company.
  • Houston didn't do as well in their "Tech-Pole" rankings, which they define as "the absorptive capacity of technology transfer within a metropolitan area", placing between 19 and 23 nationally depending on the index. As you might expect, Silicon Valley was #1, although you might be surprised to find Washington DC at #2.
  • The University of Texas system scores first on their Biotech Patent Composite Index.
Rice and the Texas Medical Center make a great starting foundation, but we've got a long way to go to be a stronger commercialization center. Hopefully sustained efforts by BioHouston, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Houston Technology Center, and the Rice Alliance will get us there. I've seen amazing progress in just the last ten years. If the upward trendlines are sustained, we should do a whole lot better in future rankings.


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