Heart of Innovation – State-of-the-Art and Future of Start-Ups, Tech Transfer, and Commercialization in American Universities


NOTE FOR JOB SEEKERS: We suggest knowing the layout of Tech Transfer Offices by researching the departments and essential components of the best Universities in the Milken Report. In search of a job, you can then, demonstrate your knowledge and what you can bring to a University that is developing their program.

Innovation and the eventual commercialization of these discoveries in academia is a paradigm that is at the heart of long-term economic growth for the world.

In developed nations this is very apparent, and emerging countries realize they must nurture growth. In industry, innovation is in conducted in R&D initiatives. However, as big industry companies continue to compete with each other and there are more start up indicatives, they can begin to lessen their R&D and function by merging or acquiring these smaller companies.

As information exchange between Universities and Industry becomes more equal, and less one-sided, there is a need for more commercial-knowledge within Universities.

Increased collaborations between Universities and Industry are fueling more need for technology transfer and commercialization resources within Universities.

The Milken Institute’s University Technology Transfer and Commercialization Index is an index that ranked Universities based on data collected from 2012-2015. It used 4 key indicators to assess universities:

  • Patents issued,
  • Licenses issued,
  • Licensing income, and
  • Start-ups formed.

The Milken Institute Report ranks 225 Universities.

Here are the top in each category.

  • Patents Issued Index – California Institute of Technology
  • Licenses Issued Index – University of Washington/Wash. Res. Fdn.
  • Licensing Income Index – City of Hope National Medical Ctr. & Beckman Research Institute
  • Start-Up Score Index – University of California, Los Angeles

And here are the Top 15 Overall Indexed institutions:

  1. University of Utah
  2. Columbia University
  3. University of Florida
  4. Brigham Young University
  5. Stanford University
  6. University of Pennsylvania
  7. University of Washington/ Wash. Res. Fdn.
  8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  9. California Institute of Technology
  10. Carnegie Mellon University
  11. New York University
  12. Purdue Research Fdn.
  13. University of Texas System
  14. University of Minnesota
  15. University of California, Los Angeles

“Research universities are one of the strongest assets America can use to compete in the age of innovation.”

Research funding should be a top priority for enhancing American economic growth.”

– Milken Institute 2017 Report – Concept to Commercialization the Best Universities for Technology Transfer

The Milken Report issued 4 recommendations to grow commercialization and technology transfer in America:

  1. Maintain and promote basic scientific research funding – the authors of the Milken report conclude that basic science research may not create direct or quick commercialization, but rather may spawn entire new industries.
  2. Incentivize technology transfer through new federal commercialization fund – This is an important suggestion for change in government policy, as the Milken report authors suggest that the government could impact and increase commercialization further through increasing the government’s funding to high yield universities.
  3. Increase technology transfer capacity through federal matching grants – This suggestion involves the federal government creating a matching grant program with states to thus increase resources and staff at University Tech Transfer Offices. This would promote higher rates of entrepreneurship ensuring higher rates of research dollars reaching the economy. This would revive what the Milken Report lists as declining start-up rates across the economy.
  4. Increase technology transfer efficiency by adopting best practices – If each state created a standard by setting up an incentive for universities to adopt best practices then it is possible that all Universities could benefit. As such, a rising tide of standards could raise all boats and universities.

Incentivizing and increasing standards in Universities could, raise all standards at all Universities to match those of top-producing Universities.

The head of Columbia University’s Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV), Orin Herskovitz, stated, “Our mission is to transfer the most technologies possible from the lab to the market, things that benefit society,” and “We also want to support researchers and their research programs, and promote a culture of entrepreneurship here at Columbia.”

One of the guiding principles within the CTV is to move their start-ups through the “valley of death.”

“Valley of Death” describes low number of discoveries that make the transition into a successful commercialized product with an identified market.

Technology Transfer can help.

Future of Tech Transfer and Commercialization Offices

We look for the future of University Start-ups, Technology Transfer, and Commercialization in the US to hold promising careers for PhDs in America, as the need for these departments becomes increasingly apparent. Particularly, with the top universities acting as models for emerging universities.


We suggest knowing the layout of Tech Transfer Offices by researching the departments and essential components of the best Universities in the Milken Report. In search of a job, you can then, demonstrate your knowledge and what you can bring to a University that is developing their program.


  1. Ross DeVol, Joe Lee, and Minoli Ratnatunga, “Concept to Commercialization: The Best Universities for Technology Transfer” Apr 20, 2017, Publisher: Milken Institute.
  2. Don Rose and Cam Patterson, “Research to Revenue: A Practical Guide to University Start-Ups,” Jan 15, 2016, Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press.


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