UC Davis Discusses How It Propels Technology Transfer

Share:

biotech-labOne of the driving forces behind the city’s need for an innovation park is the concept known as technology transfer, or tech-transfer for short. It is the process whereby research in the academic setting is moved or transferred into the open market for private enterprise. With UC Davis increasing its research and technology development, its technology transfer needs a place to take root in the form of startups and other high-tech business.

In the Spring 2015 UC Davis Medicine, a publication of the UC Davis School of Medicine, they explain how UC Davis propels technology transfer as it ignites innovation to improve health.

“Although solving the world’s most daunting health challenges is a formidable task, the UC Davis School of Medicine rises to the challenge by ensuring its medical breakthroughs move from the confines of academia to the community at large,” they write.

“Our school is a catalyst for medical innovation,” explains Lars Berglund, senior associate dean for Research at the medical school. “We have the brain power, state-of-the-art hospital and physician systems, creative business leaders, welcoming communities and a history of collaboration among industry, academia and government that nurtures new ideas.”

As the article explains, “The key process for taking these discoveries toward the marketplace is technology transfer. The UC Davis Office of Research, which works with faculty at the medical school and elsewhere on campus, now offers commercial licensing of more than 650 technologies, encompassing biotechnology, veterinary and human medicine, computer science, engineering, optics, agriculture, transportation and other fields.”

As the article explains, the Technology Management and Corporate Relations, a unit in the UC Davis Office of Research, acts to guide faculty members through the patent application process, which is described as a “maze” and they also help “make essential connections to convey discoveries to the commercial marketplace.”

They trumpet their successes including “a recent innovation spearheaded by UC Davis researchers with potential to help children and adults with status epilepticus, a prolonged epileptic seizure that constitutes a life-threatening medical emergency. Boston pharmaceutical company SAGE Therapeutics licensed rights to commercialize the treatment that UC Davis neurologist Michael Rogawski and his colleagues have pioneered.”

“The success of SAGE Therapeutics demonstrates how our support of research technology developed by UC Davis faculty, in collaboration with a startup enterprise, can make a dramatic impact in people’s lives. That’s what’s so exciting about our biomedical innovations,” says Dushyant Pathak, UC Davis associate vice chancellor for Technology Management and Corporate Relations in the Office of Research.

There are three parts to Dushyant Pathak’s division, which include Innovation Access, Venture Catalyst, and the Office of Corporate Relations.

As he explains, ““Our office seeks out and identifies synergies that cut across disciplines, schools and colleges, and facilitates effective engagement of companies with the right partners amongst our faculty… The Office of Research is the only unit within the university with a mandate that crosses all disciplines, schools and colleges to interface our research enterprise with the external infrastructure of commercialization.”

Senior Associate Dean Lars Berglund “regards cross-disciplinary collaborations as fundamental to successful investigations.”

He explained, “UC Davis is a more complete university than many other institutions because of its strength in multiple areas, including medicine, veterinary medicine, nursing, engineering and biological sciences. That sets us up to establish unique partnerships. But we must first find areas where people can come together in ways that are logical, that aren’t forced.”

Thomas Nesbitt, UC Davis Health System associate vice chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances, explains the importance of multidisciplinary teams that can lend fresh perspective to examining and overcoming obstacles. What is known as “big data” is essential to this function.

Associate Vice Chancellor Nesbitt explains, “We are producing large amounts of data that often are not analyzed and not translated into actionable clinical information. A single person’s genome profile consists of a tremendous amount of data, and then there’s patient-generated data, from devices such as personal activity trackers. If analytics are applied, all of those data could be turned into actionable information.”

He adds, “For each patient in an ICU, each beep represents a data point. Is it possible to begin to analyze all that data to better determine how to improve the care of patients?”

Last week, in her Vanguard column, Chancellor Linda Katehi noted, “In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, thanks to the little known Bayh-Dole Act signed into law in by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, universities started to create the first incubators and start-up companies.”

The article here notes, “The impetus to explore potential commercial solutions to those and other intriguing questions likely wouldn’t exist at UC Davis or any other research university that receives federal research funds, were it not for the 1980 passage of the landscape-altering Bayh-Dole Technology Transfer Act. That legislation authorized universities to take ownership of inventions made by academic researchers with funding from the federal government and grant licenses to companies to commercialize such discoveries.”

“The Bayh-Dole act triggered a gigantic increase in patents filed by U.S. universities. Passage of the Bayh-Dole Act was a seminal event in creation of tech transfer activities at universities,” explained David McGee, executive director of UC Davis InnovationAccess.

The act allows the university to share royalties with faculty inventors. As they explain, “The Bayh-Dole Act specifies that as a condition of ownership of intellectual property, universities agree to earnestly pursue marketing of patented faculty inventions.”

“The Office of Research has, during the past half-dozen years, evolved into a one-stop shop for evaluation of patent potential, patent filings, technology licensing, commercialization management and other vital technology transfer functions,” the article explains.

David McGee credits “the evolution of the Office of Research to the entrepreneurial leadership of Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.”

He said, “Chancellor Katehi instilled within faculty across the campus the importance of entering into the technology transfer process, fostering and supporting interest in startup companies, and working with companies in general.”

Chancellor Katehi added, “The vast majority of our innovations take place in the research labs and workshops of this nation’s universities…. University research translates into more than just new ideas. It is directly responsible for jobs, economic health, and the long-term competitiveness of our state and nation.”

The article notes, “Cary Adams, founding chair of the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance, on whose board of directors he serves along with Pathak, agrees that UC Davis has a pivotal role in maintaining the momentum of the area’s thriving medical technology industry. The group was founded in 2001 jointly by the Sacramento Metro Chamber, the Golden State Capital Network, and UC Davis Connect, which was later incorporated into InnovationAccess.”

“We at SARTA believe that much of the knowledge discovery taking place at UC Davis can be commercialized, and we want to help make that an efficient process. We try to bring all the resources that a startup needs – a network, access to training programs, and connections with people who can help them fill out their team,” Mr. Adams said.

“We have in our community strength in research and supportive industry clusters in areas that will transform medicine over the next decade or two. They include regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, telehealth, and molecular imaging,” Mr. Adams continued. “Our region has unique resources that create a tremendous opportunity to build very successful industry clusters that can do a lot of good for our community, for UC Davis, and for the world.”

Share:

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

16 thoughts on “UC Davis Discusses How It Propels Technology Transfer”

  1. Tia Will

    “The vast majority of our innovations take place in the research labs and workshops of this nation’s universities…. University research translates into more than just new ideas. It is directly responsible for jobs, economic health, and the long-term competitiveness of our state and nation.”:

    This statement is true as stands.

    “UC Davis is a more complete university than many other institutions because of its strength in multiple areas, including medicine, veterinary medicine, nursing, engineering and biological sciences. That sets us up to establish unique partnerships. But we must first find areas where people can come together in ways that are logical, that aren’t forced.”

    This statement is true as stands.

    One of the driving forces behind the city’s need for an innovation park is the concept known as technology transfer, or tech-transfer for short. It is the process whereby research in the academic setting is moved or transferred into the open market for private enterprise.”

    This statement is undoubtedly believed to be true by many, but is not true.

    We currently have electronic technology that allows for real time transfer of the information generated by researchers at UCD, and any other university to all other researchers who would benefit from sharing. What is true is that building here and restricting the flow of information for the purposes of developing local companies and thus generating income locally means that other groups will not be sharing in this information. This is a matter of picking and choosing business winners and losers and actually limits overall innovation and moving products out rapidly to all who would benefit from them, instead of supplying the ultimate products only to those who can pay top dollar or to those with whom one is aligned geographically economically or politically.

    As a doctor, it is my belief that publicly funded research should immediately be available to the general public, not just to select allied enterprises so that all can benefit equally. It is ethically wrong in my opinion for publicly funded research to be reserved for use by private companies that can then make minor modifications, claim patents and then jack up the price of their products. I have posted examples of this practice previously.

    1. Anon

      But research done at universities is often not “publicly funded”, but is subsidized by grants from private businesses, nonprofits, endowments, alumni contributions, etc.  I would be interested to know how much research done at UCD is “publicly” funded.

      According to the Huffington Post:
      The federal government gave out more than $40 billion for research and development (R&D) to universities across the country in fiscal 2011. Universities depend heavily on federal funding, with many of the top programs relying on the government for more than 60% of their R&D budgets. As a result, many research program directors fear that the federal cuts promoted by the sequester will hurt future funding.
      A few of the top schools received a disproportionate share of the government’s spending on grants for R&D. Of all 896 schools that received federal money for R&D, approximately 20% of those funds went to just 10 universities, according to a study by the National Science Foundation. Johns Hopkins University alone received nearly $1.9 billion from the federal government in 2011, more than twice as much as any other university in the country.

      Clearly much of the research that goes on at public universities is not “publicly” funded.

    2. Davis Progressive

      ” it is my belief that publicly funded research should immediately be available to the general public, not just to select allied enterprises so that all can benefit equally. It is ethically wrong in my opinion for publicly funded research to be reserved for use by private companies that can then make minor modifications, claim patents and then jack up the price of their products. I have posted examples of this practice previously.”

      so you don’t believe that a researcher at a university who ends up developing new technology, should be able to profit from that?

      1. Tia Will

        DP

        I know that I am an outlier on the issue of compensation. I believe that everyone should be compensated for their contributions to society at the same rate.  If the researcher requires more hours to come up with her invention, she gets paid more. What we do not like to acknowledge is that for the researcher to do her job, she is dependent upon housekeeping, the grounds keeper, the people who keep the lights and electricity flowing, the clerical staff and a host of others. And yet we allow some involved in the enterprise to rake in huge amounts of profits while others make minimum wage.

        The way we currently allocate compensation is that we allow “the market” to decide what something is worth, meaning that ( as an unintended consequence of compensating researchers ) we restrict medications to those who have the ability to pay for them even though their tax dollars may have contributed to the development of that medication or technique. This I find unethical.

        I find it unethical especially since the market is anything but “free”. The positions of doctors and researchers have been artificially limited for years. We are now in the process of drawing limitations at a different level. We are opening more medical school slots while continuing to limit the number of residency positions. I have been involved directly with regard to medical school numbers but am sure that the same applies to the most highly sought and compensated research positions. This is not “free market”. This is the deliberate restriction of researchers in order to maintain, not the highest quality, as some would argue, but to maintain artificially high compensation.
        This I know because I have been inside the system for the past 30 years both as a front line doctor and as a member of our hiring team and before that as a member of the admissions committee for the UCD medical school.

        1. KSmith

          I always appreciate reading your comments, and I pretty much agree with your views regarding compensation (I’ve argued in the comments here on various subjects for a scheme similar to what you have suggested many times).

          Until, however, we could get closer to something like that, I think that what the university is doing as far as going after research dollars and pursuing tech transfer does help contribute to opportunities for others on campus (and probably outside of the university as well).

          For the most part (from what I’ve seen so far, and I am an “insider” as far as tech transfer goes), I think UC has done a fine job of facilitating this process while also being attentive to the “public benefit.” Oftentimes this takes the form of releasing the technology for start-ups or other private industry, but also retaining full rights to the IP so that it can be made available to other researchers so that they would, for free, get the benefits of the publicly-supported activities of UC.

          And in my experience this is true not only for the US, but also abroad. Plant varieties, for example, will be licensed by UC for growers in the US and other countries (generating royalty income for UC, which is fed back into the research programs and support staff), but the varieties may also be grown in developing areas or by subsistence farmers in other countries as part of the public benefit mission of the university.

        2. Miwok

          KSmith, I accidentally reported your comment, apologies for the fat fingers.

          Tia, you and KSmith have good comments, but either deny or are unaware that the Regents, especially Richard Blum, profit from anything and have first crack at any Davis or any other city that have proposals for any campus.

          There is also evidence that they are making up Private/Public partnerships that are consistently costly for the University, while profits are funneled off to “foundations” with no accounting. A prime example is the excuses they give to deny raises while paying millions to certain people as “bonuses” or “stipends” supposedly to “retain talent”.

          Since you have been on hiring teams, tell us about the professors that demand a job for their spouse or kids, a loan for a new house at very low rates that are unavailable to other employees, or the general public.

          One year I was involved in negotiations for a union, UC paid $82 Million in this kind of stuff and denied money for a 5% raise for thousands of employees, costing $4 million, because “there was no money in the budget”. The lawyers consistently get a percentage of the money denied to working people.

          Honesty and Integrity? Not in the course catalog.

  2. KSmith

    Miwok:

    I’m unaware of these issues you bring up, but I will definitely try to educate myself. My experience is just based on my work at the UC Davis campus and what I know from that. From that standpoint, I think things look pretty good, but admittedly my knowledge is related to a particular slice of IP and how the transfer of that tech goes.

    I am aware, however, of the hiring practices that you speak of (which I agree–unfair), and I don’t agree with how the staff housing that will eventually go into West Village will be (from what I have gathered) for the upper management/higher-level staff members and -not- for the more mid-level UC Davis staffers who would be the ones who would need it more, financially.

  3. Frankly

    I know that I am an outlier on the issue of compensation. I believe that everyone should be compensated for their contributions to society at the same rate.

    Tia – the problem here is that this is too fanciful to be real, but it becomes a fundamental requirement to hold up many of your ideas.

    And if we are really going to arrive at your absolute equality utopian dream of equal compensation for all, we would first have to agree what “compensation” is.  There are a lot of well done studies on employee retention and rate of pay is down the list from things like a feeling of accomplishment.  I would bet that as a MD you are blessed with one of the highest and most consistent feelings of accomplishment.  You also are blessed with a lot of prestige and outside respect being a doctor.  How fair is it that you benefit from these components of compensation while others do not?  Should we allow other people the benefit to do your job so they too benefit from those thing?

    Why do people holding your views fixate on fairness of outputs and not fairness of inputs?  The Little Red Hen is the bad actor in your play unless she just gives away more of the outputs she derived from her greater inputs.

    There are a couple of very fundamental problems with this view of yours that everyone should be paid the same.  You know of course that this is a tenant of collectivism and we have plenty of evidence that it does not work.

    The first problem is the determination of “enough”.   If Little Red Hen works harder than other (greater inputs) she might derive outputs that exceed what she needs and hence has more than enough.  And so she could give the excess away.  But is this determination of enough hers or the decision of the collective?  The problem with it being the latter is that it is incapable of covering the nuanced differences in human needs and ends up causing just another form of inequality.  Your problem with the decision being hers is that she will “horde” the excess that she produced/made… but then she produced it / made it, not the other members of the collective.

    The second problem is that once the collective sets the rules for enough Little Red Hen will stop working harder.  She will learn that she can work less hard because the collective will provide for her, and there is no upside personal return for harder work.  There would be many fewer doctors in your world because there would be fewer people willing to sacrifice all that extra hard work to develop the capability to do the job.

    I think you know the problems with this often repeated unbaked idea of yours to pay everyone the same rate of pay.  This being the case, I think you should drop it unless you can do the work to explain how you would make it work.   Or are you just focusing on the outputs thinking someone else should be responsible for the inputs?

    1. Topcat

      Frankly,

      You’ve done a good job of explaining the fundamental problems with the collectivist idea that “Everyone should get paid at the same rate”.

      When I see Tia proposing this idea I think that perhaps the City of Davis should put her in change of getting City employee compensation and benefits under control.  How far will she get convincing the policemen/woman and firemen/woman that they should make the same rate as an office technician or park maintenance staffer? Will she convince the City manager and the department managers and supervisors that they should all make the same rate as they line workers?  How will she convince the employee with 20 years experience that a new hire should be payed at the same rate? And can she get the excessive retirement benefits packages reduced? If we could get all the high salaries and benefits reduced to what the city can afford, then the City budget would be balanced and we would not need all this talk about the need to grow to increase revenue.

    2. Tia Will

      Frankly

      this is too fanciful to be real”

      And that would have been said about microbes until they were found to be real, or about human flight, or about space exploration. Being fanciful does not make something unreal or impossible.

      Now to your actual points.

      1. The value of input. Since I cannot possibly do my job with out the services of housekeeping, what makes my service more valuable than hers ?  We have defined it that way and therefore as human beings, could choose to define it differently.

      2. How is my “input” any more important that that of the laborers who built the building I work in, or that of the farm laborers who bring in our food ?  If they fail in their job, we fail as a society. I would argue that they “labor” or “input” just as hard as I do, and yet my “input” is valued far higher than theirs. This concept of respect and other areas of “satisfaction” is nothing more than an artificial human construct. We can define these factors anyway we choose. I personally vote for a change.

      3. “Little Red Hen will stop working harder.” This presupposes that everyone works only for material gain. If we were to convert to a contribution based instead of a materially based society, all our children would learn that they gain social awards and approval not by how much they are able to acquire, but by what they are willing to contribute in whatever area they find their interest or aptitude whether that is physical work, or medicine, or music, or just plain kindness of the human spirit in those who care for the children and elderly.

      4. We have no evidence what so ever that it cannot ever work, because there are no large scale attempts to make it work. I believe that the same would have been said about democracy prior to our experiment in self governance, and yet here we are.I do not believe that this dream is an impossibility simply because you say so or because it does not exist now.

      5. I see no problem in determining what is enough? The government is now able to calculate a poverty line. Make your compensation X amount higher than that depending on a calculation of our total national income generated ( or any other measurable economic marker) and use that to calculate “enough”.

      1. Frankly

        And that would have been said about microbes until they were found to be real, or about human flight, or about space exploration. Being fanciful does not make something unreal or impossible.

        There is a great difference about the probability of scientific discovery and the probability of finding unicorns by chasing rainbows.

        Tia the failure of this idea of yours is in clear current display in Venezuela where it is in economic free fall… 70% inflation…. not enough medical equipment and supplies… not enough doctors.  Growing human misery and suffering that exceeds anything close to the average for the US.  The bottom 10% of family incomes in the US belong to people living better that the average top 1% in Venezuela.

        All systems are flawed because humans cannot be converted to sexless, emotionless, collectivist robots completely controlled by the top-down rules of society.  Did you read the book or see the movie The Giver?

        In his “community”, which is under extreme control, there is no suffering, hunger, war, and also no color, music, or love. Everything is controlled by “the Elders,” who are looked upon in a very positive light, though they control who will marry whom, where children are placed, and what everyone will be “assigned” as a career. The people in the community do not have the freedom to choose. Jonas aches with this new found wisdom and his desire for a life Elsewhere blossoms.

        I see people with your views as being frustrated with some of basic human nature… but focused on the negative aspects more than the positive.  You abhor the chaos of a system where egos and the need for attention are harnessed, and those more risk-taking, aggressive, proactive and harder-striving people derive more rewards.  You value a quieter, easier, more thoughtful, more cooperative society that better fits your personality.  You don’t like it that the Lacrosse team captain with the B average is the type that comes away with greater monetary success.  You don’t like the attraction to others to be driven the same way.

        The problem is there are no other systems that work anything close to as well.

        You seem to define your house cleaner as a perpetual house cleaner.  That is where you are making your biggest mistake and it is frankly (because I am) a bit of classism on display.  Why can’t your house cleaner strive to be a doctor?  There is really no reason that she can’t.  She can.  Now it might be beyond her capability, but then there are other professions and careers should could strive for.

        That is the piece you seem to conveniently leave out.  It is a victim mentality on display… that there are all these people that have less or don’t have enough and they are victims stuck in their own circumstances.   What most of them are stuck in is a mindset that they are stuck.  They are also stuck in a relative laziness of wanting the same type of no-change comfort life that you opine for.

        Life change is hard.  It takes guts.  It takes risk-taking.  It takes acceptance of failure and then the need to try again or try something else.  Hard work is not just backbreaking toil.  Hard work is facing your own internal demons and insecurities and then striving to overcome them… to develop as a human to greater and greater things.

        And if we accept your system we will have fewer people striving for greater and greater things.  Because they will slip to a risk-averse comfort where everyone is driving the same speed and there is no bad feeling or anxiety that anyone is going any faster.  There will be few or no Little Red Hens.  And there will be a few political powerful that are the new rich from looting.

  4. Frankly

    We are on a trajectory where the UC and CSU systems will be less and less funded by public money and more and more needing to change their business model to be reliant on private funding.  This is happening primarily because of the absurdity of public employee labor bloat and bloated costs far and above the overall market rate for equivalent labor… and the multiplier effect of defined benefit pensions.

    The old Democrat/union strategy to threaten starved services to cause taxpayers to open their wallets more and more was always going to be a strategy that would eventually stop working.  It has stopped working because we have reached maximum tax saturation.  Those most oriented toward public business have basically broken the financial apparatus that ensures adequate funding for public business by too many trips to the taxpayer ATM.

    Ironically it is the lack of business sense that has killed the old public business model.  Now the public business is reorienting itself toward a new model of more private-side funding.  It is trying to grow a working business sense.  However, those still fixated on their public business orientation are against it.  The are against it even though it is clear that the old model is hopelessly broken and unsustainable.   If these folks win, then the university will begin to decline/contract.  It will decline/contract because its cost trends are far exceeding its revenue trends… and there is little to no hope that more revenue from taxpayers will happen.

    I am really fine with either from a macro view.  The model has to change one way or the other.  UCD is not currently fiscally sustainable.   However, for the sake of the future of Davis I want to see the model change to help UCD continue to grow and improve.  And to do this the university will have to plant and harvest more private funding sources.

    1. David Greenwald

      What we are on a trajectory for is more of a public-private partnership where the the university becomes an engine of research and development, but is reliant on both public and private grants and other monies to support its work and then is able to transfer that technology back to the private sector.

    2. Barack Palin

      Big Sis has the answer,  less lower paying CA students and more higher paying out of state and foreign students.  How does it feel paying CA taxes to help fund our UC system to educate outsiders?

      Yet out-of-state enrollments will be allowed to climb at the other eight UC campuses, perhaps by thousands of students. Out-of-state students pay almost three times the tuition and fees that Californians pay, but the rise of nonresident students is a sore point for many who believe seats in the exceptional public university should be reserved for residents of the state.

      Napolitano’s decision to limit UC’s enrollment of Californians while allowing most out-of-state enrollments to grow escalates a major budget fight over UC funding that has been brewing since November. That’s when the UC regents voted to increase tuition by up to 28 percent over the next five years over the objection of Gov. Jerry Brown, who also serves on the Board of Regents.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for