In their 30th year in a row of recognizing the role patents play in university research, the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) have unveiled the Top 100 Worldwide Universities granted U.S. patents in 2012.

“Innovation based on university technology has proven to be a key factor in worldwide industrial and economic development. In the 21st century, the support, encouragement and development of technology and innovation are fundamental to the success of a university,” Paul R. Sanberg, president of the NAI, said in a statement.

Growing rapidly, the NAI is a non-profit member organization made up of more than 3,000 inventor members and fellows spanning over 200 universities across the globe and governmental and non-profit research institutions. It was founded in 2010 to recognize inventors with U.S. patents, enhance the visibility of academic innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate students and enable its members’ inventions to benefit society.  

The IPO is a trade association for owners of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. It advocates for affordable IP ownership rights and provides services to members, including supporting member interests of legislative issues; analyzing IP issues; educational services; and communicating with the general public about intellectual property rights.

Together, the two organizations compiled the list by calculating the number of utility patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during 2012, which list a university as the first assignee on the patent.

“Patents encourage innovation and can promote industrial research funding and commercialization by providing corporations the incentive to invest in university research projects,” said IPO Executive Director Herbert C. Wamsley.  ”The commercialization of these innovations transfers cutting-edge research to the commercial marketplace, generating revenue and diversifying the economy.”

Since the enactment in 1980 of the U.S. legislation, Bayh-Dole Act, the number of patents held by universities in the U.S. has increased, which has led to more licensing income for inventors, better funding opportunities because of wider research collaborations and an entrepreneurial culture.

“University inventors are the discoverers and creators of new solutions to existing problems, and, as such, are key contributors to the advancement of technology,” said Sanberg.  “Protection of this intellectual property, through the patenting process, underpins the creation of new industries and employment.”


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