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October 24, 2013

Technology licensing generates $6.5M

Technology licensing activities generated more than $6.54 million for the University in fiscal year 2013, with more than $4.1 million coming from licensing revenue and $2.4 million from patent expense reimbursement from licensees, according to the Office of Technology Management’s (OTM) recently released FY13 annual report.

Licensing hit record levels in FY13 with OTM and its health sciences counterpart, the Office of Enterprise Development (OED), executing 155 licenses and options — a 17.4 percent increase over last year. Boosting the FY13 number were 80 licenses or options in which Pitt partnered with another institution.

The University has tallied 972 technology licenses and options, including startups, since 1996, the year OTM was established.

Invention disclosures

Invention disclosures, the first step in commercializing an innovation, totaled 254 in FY13, bringing the total to 2,886 since 1996.


Fifty-one patents were awarded to Pitt in fiscal year 2013, surpassing FY12’s record of 49. Since 1996, Pitt has been awarded 541 patents, with more than 200 of them issued within the past five years.

University innovators continue to feed into the patent pipeline. The University submitted 78 U.S. patent applications in FY13


Nine startup companies based on Pitt innovations were spun out in fiscal year 2013 — the same number as in 2012 — bringing the total since 1996 to 98.

• Panther Learning Systems is based on the SWoRD software system developed by psychology professor Christian Schunn in the Learning Research and Development Center. SWoRD is a cloud-based reciprocal student peer review system for assessing writing assignments.

• Formabone is based on injectable bone cement and related bone-regeneration materials developed by Prashant Kumta of bioengineering and Charles Sfeir of dental medicine.

• Iron Horse Diagnostics is based on biomarkers to diagnose motor neuron diseases developed by adjunct pathology faculty member Robert Bowser.

• DiaVacs is based on a vaccine developed by faculty members Nick Giannoukakis of pathology and Massimo Trucco of pediatrics to prevent T cells from attacking pancreatic islet cells. The innovation could aid patients with Type 1 diabetes by reversing or preventing destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic cells. Phase I clinical trials are underway.

• The innovation behind Wellbridge Health is a table-based program developed by social work faculty member Daniel Rosen that enables patients to communicate with their health care providers.

• 3Storm is based on a mobile app to help professionals manage continuing education credits and requirements. Traumatic brain injury research nurse Steven Benso teamed up with nurse Anthony Chao, a student in the University’s nurse anesthesia program, and Richard Fera, the School of Nursing’s information technology coordinator, to develop the app.

• NanoPhoretics is based on a portable lab instrument that performs multiparticle separation isolation and assays of small particles. It was developed by faculty members Steven Levitan and Samuel Dickerson of electrical and computer engineering and Donald Chiarulli of computer science, based on 3-D CMOS technology.

• Boston Mountain Biotech uses a proteomics-based approach to purifying manufactured proteins. The innovation is the product of a multi-institutional collaboration that includes chemical and petroleum engineering faculty member Mohammed Ataai.

• The spinoff PecaLabs is developing a pediatric heart valve that is based on a pediatric pulmonary valve conduit developed by cardiothoracic surgery faculty member Masahiro Yoshida.

Marc Malandro, associate vice chancellor for technology management and commercialization and director of OTM and OED, said: “We are working this year to develop new programs to maintain not only the numbers of new companies, but also to ensure they have the best chance of being successful.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 5

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