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Home > About BNE > Press Room > 2009 Archive > November > UB leads SUNY in commercializing inventions



UB leads SUNY in commercializing inventions

By CHARLOTTE HSU
November 19, 2009

UB is a major player in SUNY when it comes to commercializing inventions, Robert Genco, vice provost and director of the Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach, told the Faculty Senate Executive Committee at its Wednesday meeting.

The university, Genco said, is responsible for about half the start-up companies sprouting from research done in the system.

“For us, the driving force here is that there’s benefit to the public...We do all of this activity so that those things that are discovered by our faculty may benefit the public,” Genco said. “Most of these discoveries do very little good if they’re in publications...They need to be moved out of the university into, usually, the marketplace to be useful. So you’ve got a blend of academics and business here.”

Among other duties, Genco’s office helps faculty, staff and students evaluate and patent inventions, and license intellectual property. Researchers receive 40 percent of revenues their innovations generate.

The first steps in deciding whether to patent a discovery are to determine whether that discovery can yield products with value in the marketplace, and whether that discovery is indeed novel or rather something another party has patented before. Genco explained that commercial opportunity is a major factor influencing an invention’s progression from the laboratory into the world at large. The size and growth potential of the market for an item and the number of competing products available can affect the level of success a new innovation could see.

Genco noted that since 2002, UB research has led to 131 companies, many located in Western New York. Recent inventions range from a diagnostic test for sleep apnea to a “SmartPill” that evaluates motility disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.

As UB continues to grow, so will its efforts to bring new innovations to the marketplace. UB has a technology incubator that provides affordable business services, such as flexible rental terms and coaching, counseling, mentoring and networking for entrepreneurs. Such support greatly increases new companies’ chances of survival. A biosciences incubator planned for UB and Kaleida Health’s new global vascular institute and research building downtown will offer similar services.