As a major research university, the University of Minnesota advances knowledge across a wide range of fields, yielding new solutions and technologies that can then be commercialized for the benefit of the public.
In fiscal year 2021, the University’s technology transfer activities saw continued success in licensing relevant research to companies for the development of new products and services that benefit the public good, foster economic growth, and generate revenue to further support its mission. The University signed 236 new licensing deals (one more than the previous year) and ended the year with 575 current revenue-generating agreements.
Some of those new licenses were with startup companies. UMN Technology Commercialization’s Venture Center launched a record 20 startup companies, with 14 based in Minnesota. These startups include Exergi Predictive, which uses a data analytics system to improve the fuel and electric efficiency of hybrid electric trucks used in commercial applications. The University has set a goal to launch 25 startups per year by fiscal year 2025 as part of MPact 2025, its systemwide strategic plan.
In total, the Venture Center has launched more than 190 startups since 2006, bringing innovations to industries crucial to Minnesota, such as medical technology, life sciences, food and agriculture, and natural resources. These startups have a success rate of 75 percent, well above the national average, and have attracted more than $1.15 billion in investment, from 2006 to 2019. Nine of them have been acquired or gone public since 2017.
Technology Commercialization Statistics, FY17-FY21
Technology Commercialization, Wellspring Sophia; UMN Enterprise Financial System
*New Patent Filing Rate is number of new patents filed during the fiscal year divided by number of new disclosures in the same time period
The University’s technology transfer work has been recognized for its excellence in national and global rankings:
- Among top 10 US public universities in four key metrics: startups launched (5th), inventions disclosed (6th), US patents issued (7th), licenses/options executed (8th); 2019 AUTM
- 22nd globally and 2nd among Big Ten public institutions; 2019 World's Most Innovative Universities
- 8th in the US for “innovation impact” and 2nd among Big Ten Public Institutions; George W Bush Institute
- 17th globally for Universities Granted US Utility Patents and 4th among Big Ten public institutions; National Academy of Inventors
- 6th among all US public research institutions and 2nd in the Big Ten; Milken Institute's "Best Universities for Technology Transfer" report
- The University signed onto COVID-19 Licensing Guidelines aimed at getting UMN innovations that could fight the virus and the COVID-19 pandemic into the marketplace as quickly as possible
- Discovery Launchpad, a business incubator for UMN startups that launched in 2018, had 18 participants, with 12 completing the program in FY2020
- Discovery Capital, a program to help provide matching investment capital to UMN companies, evaluated 14 opportunities, investing a total of $1.2 million in six startups (FY 2020)
- Three UMN startups received Minnesota Tekne Awards: Startup Division - Anatomi; AgTech Division - Calyxt; and Special SBIR Honoree – NovoClade
- The University has spun out more than 190 companies since FY2006, with operations across a diversity of fields and 74 percent being Minnesota-based