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The University of Utah’s Economic Impact

U of Utah first in the nation for startup formation T

he University of Utah overtook MIT to become America’s No. 1 research institution when it comes to creating startup companies based on

university technology, and it achieved the top ranking with a fraction of the research budget of MIT and other major universities.

The ranking, for 2009, is the result of the latest annual survey by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) of the nation’s top research institutions. A year earlier, the University of Utah tied for first place with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was second to MIT for the previous two years.

The 19th annual “AUTM Licensing Activ- ity Survey” ranked 181 public and private research institutions throughout the country. According to AUTM, the University of Utah created 19 companies based on university research in 2009, while MIT and the California Institute of Technology tied for second with 18 companies each.


“We are proud of this accomplishment,” said Jack Brittain, vice president of Technology Venture Development. “Given our research funding, this is totally unexpected. Our success generating startups has gotten significant attention in the many states that are looking to their public universities to recreate their economy and develop globally competitive firms for the future. Utah’s suc- cess shows it is possible to establish viable technology-based businesses outside the traditional high-technology centers on the East and West Coasts.”

In total, the 2009 AUTM survey shows that the 181 institutions surveyed created 596 startup companies in 2009 – an average of

Our success generating startups has gotten significant attention.”

This year, the University of Utah enters the ranks of the new Pac-12 conference, which includes Stanford, UCLA, Berkeley and the University of Washington. The achievement marks a major development in the univer- sity’s history as it joins a prestigious group of schools in the West – but the feat goes well beyond athletics.

Entering the Pac-12 is an indication that the U of U athletic teams have what it takes to compete on the next level. That’s clear. What’s not so obvious is that the U also has the academic and research potential to compete on the next level. That was a major factor when entering the Pac-12, according to U administrators.

The ways that the U measures up to the

other Pac-12 schools off the field are many. One important way is in the area of technol- ogy commercialization. In this area, the U sits at or above average when compared to the other Pac-12 schools. Data from the latest As- sociation of University Technology Managers survey provide the proof.

In the area of startup-company generation, for example, the U is No. 1 among Pac-12 schools with 19 startups in the 2009 calendar year, the most recent year surveyed. Other top schools include the University of Colo- rado with 11 startups and the University of Washington with 10.

The U is also above average in the Pac-12 in many other related areas. For example, it is above average in the number of technology

3.29 for each university.

The 10-campus University of California sys- tem had 47 startup companies, and the nine- university system of the University of Texas had 22 – but those figures were not broken down by the number of startup companies per campus, and the average is far below Utah’s 19 startups.

Other top institutions in the 2009 AUTM survey included: University of Kentucky Research Foundation (14 startups), Columbia University (13) and the University of Colo- rado (11). The following institutions had 10 startups in 2009: Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, Purdue Univer- sity, University of Florida and University of Washington.

The University of Utah’s ranking is more significant when considering the amount of research money spent compared to other institutions. The U recorded $355 million in research expenditures in 2009, while MIT had $1.375 billion and Caltech had $521 million. In other words, MIT spent about 400 percent more than Utah on research in 2009, and Caltech spent 47 percent more.

Joining the Pac-12 Conference goes beyond athletics

licenses and


executed in 2009 (at 79).

It is above aver- age in the number of invention disclosures filed (at 200). And it is above average in the number of U.S. patents issued (at 35).

So, while the Utes expect to be competitive in athletics this year, the U also expects to top the league in commercializing technol- ogy. With 288 existing technology and com- mercialization agreements already in place, the PAC-12 schools are important partners in many areas of research and collaborators in the commercialization of technology.

University of Utah is now part of the Pac-12 athletic conference.




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