UPDATED: UI, ISU partners in technology transfer

UPDATED: UI, ISU partners in technology transfer

Updated 5:13 p.m. Wednesday

URBANA — Illinois State University is about to become a partner in the University of Illinois' growing technology-transfer efforts, and other state universities could follow.

The UI's Urbana campus and Illinois State announced a partnership Wednesday intended to build on research discoveries to promote innovation and economic growth.

Under the agreement, the Urbana campus will provide technology-transfer services — through the UI Research Park, its venture-capital fund and other programs — to support Illinois State's effort to expand its own development of intellectual property.

"This unique new collaboration leverages the power of UIUC's innovation infrastructure to serve not only Illinois State, but the people across Illinois who will benefit from breakthroughs that create new products and services, new companies and new jobs," UI President Tim Killeen said in a release.

The UI's Office of Technology Management will provide fee-based services to Illinois State's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs to help identify, patent and license new intellectual property developed by faculty on the Normal campus.

The UI will also provide workshops, seminars and educational materials to promote awareness of research opportunities and interest among Illinois State faculty.

UI officials declined to discuss the details of the fees, other than to say they were "fair and reasonable."

"We are starting small, so there is low risk for both parties," Steven Wille, associate director of the Office of Technology Management, said in an email.

Illinois State hopes to develop its own services eventually, based on what it learns from the partnership, officials said.

"Illinois State faculty members have been creating innovative technologies for years and the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation continues to grow across all academic disciplines on campus," said Illinois State University President Larry Dietz. "This partnership gives us access to a highly-developed technology management office that provides a full range of services at a very economical cost."

The initial goals are modest: Illinois State typically averages two to three disclosures of new technology a year and hopes that will grow to more than 10 through the new partnership.

The three-campus University of Illinois system had 373 disclosures in fiscal year 2015, along with 299 patent applications, 97 patents issued, 83 licenses and 15 new start-up companies.

The UI system, which includes a large health research operation at the Chicago campus, receives more than $900 million in research funding, consistently ranking among the top 10 universities in the nation.

Illinois State has a research portfolio of more than $20 million, in fields ranging from biology and materials science to education.

The partnership grew out of discussions between the universities that began in July, but the idea had been tossed around for several years, officials said.

Under a pilot program last fall, the UI worked with Illinois State faculty researchers on a couple of test cases, "to flesh out how a partnership would work," Wille said. The test cases went well, leading to a formal agreement.

"We believe this arrangement is healthy for the State of Illinois, sharing available resources in order to help promote technology transfer and hopefully create jobs," Wille said.

Lawrence Schook, UI vice president for research, said the UI is already in discussions with other Illinois universities about similar partnerships.

UI officials wouldn't say which schools are involved, as the discussions are still in the early stages.