UC system ranks No. 1 in universities granted US patents

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For the third consecutive year, the University of California topped the list of universities granted U.S. patents in 2015, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

The 10 UC campuses issued 520 patents in the 2015 fiscal year, 489 of which were utility patents. This number is up from the 395 total patents issued in 2013 and the 496 issued in 2014.

“UC is the world’s largest academic research system,” said Dorothy Miller, director of systemwide programs and initiatives at the University of California Office of the President. “This research innovation generates some of the world’s most significant inventions every year, from cutting-edge cancer therapies to climate change solutions to ground-breaking gene editing tools.”

UC Berkeley accounted for 56 of the 520 patents issued by the UC system and generated more than $7 million in revenue from royalties and fees in 2015.

Only UCLA and UCSD ranked ahead of UC Berkeley in patents issued this year, accounting for 120 and 97 patents, respectively.

UCLA was responsible for more than $73 million of the $177 million the entire UC system generated in 2015. Miller said this income reflects activity from years ago, when UCLA chose to take a lump sum for its patents instead of continuing royalties.

Miller said faculty members are evaluated based on their contribution to the scientific community, which is partially measured by the number of patents issued. Next year’s state budget includes $22 million in funding for UC President Janet Napolitano’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative sponsored by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin.

The UC system also initiated the QuickStart program last year, allowing startups to streamline the process of licensing certain UC intellectual property. The agreement, intended to be standardized and low-cost, allows the startup to bypass the additional approval required by the UC Office of General Counsel.

There are 39 active startups in Berkeley that provide 820 jobs in California. Among these startups is CalWave, an energy company attempting to convert the power of ocean waves into renewable electricity and fresh water.

The foundation of CalWave’s technology, WaveCarpet, is based on research conducted by UC Berkeley assistant professor of mechanical engineering Reza Alam and a graduate student on his team, Marcus Lehmann. CalWave is currently in use as a part of the Cyclotron Road program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Lehmann said WaveCarpet is still technically a part of the UC Berkeley mechanical engineering program. He added that CalWave and the university have yet to reach a licensing agreement, as the company is not selling a product at this time.

“There’s an official process that everyone has to go through,” Lehmann said. “It’s different for every company. Every has its own individual story and inception and needs.”

Contact Winston Cho at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @winstonscho.