But UNC’s innovation has paid off, as the University brought in a record $7.9 million from technology licenses — a 160 percent increase in revenues since 2009.
The increase in revenues from licensing technologies was set in motion years ago, when the University funneled money into new technology businesses.
In 2013, the University cashed in on two biotechnology companies it helped start up: Epizyme Inc. and Sarepta Therapeutics Inc., which created a huge boost in revenue for the school, said Andy Johns, associate vice chancellor for research.
“The path was paved years ago,” Johns said. “It’s a one-time shot in the arm, if you will.”
UNC’s goal is to move research from the lab to the market. Throughout the year, the Office of Technology Development partnered with UNC’s Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and Carolina KickStart to identify and market UNC technology with commercial potential.
“While licensing a technology to an established company is the typical route, some are better suited to be commercialized through a startup company,” said John Sheridan, assistant director of Carolina KickStart.
The companies can take years to bring the technology to market. When UNC sells the company, the University receives one lump sum of money.
Such windfalls are difficult to anticipate, said Jackie Quay, interim director of technology development.