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WMU researchers triple number of inventions

Sept. 18, 2006

KALAMAZOO--During the fiscal year ending June 30, the number of inventions coming out of Western Michigan University labs annually, the number of patent applications filed and the number of inventions licensed to third parties nearly tripled.

A total of 20 inventions were recorded at WMU, and eight patent applications were filed in the 2006-07 fiscal year, while three technologies developed by University researchers were licensed to outside parties for further development and commercialization.

During the previous year, University labs produced seven inventions and three patent applications. Prior to that, from 1978 to 2004, an average of two inventions and one patent application were recorded at the University annually. The recent data represent a tenfold increase in the number of inventions produced over the number recorded for the 1978-2004 time frame.

Dr. Michael Sharer, who became the founding director of WMU's intellectual property management and commercialization function in mid-2005, attributes the dramatic increase to a campuswide effort aimed at making researchers aware of technology transfer opportunities and the benefits those opportunities provide to the University, academic departments and the inventors.

"Technology transfer helps generate more research collaboration with corporate partners and it provides a source of revenue that can boost research capacity and attract and fund further research," Sharer points out. "The past fiscal year was one of intense inventing activity on campus, which is a tribute to the efforts of the faculty, and we now have corporate interest in several of our patented technologies."

Sharer says universities heavily involved in generating and commercializing intellectual property often use data that relates the volume of inventions generated to overall research expenditures. In 2003, the national average was 3.9 inventions per $10 million of research expenditures. During last year's spurt in inventions at WMU, the University generated 5.1 inventions for each $10 million of research expenditures.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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