How does a U invention become a product?

The University is hosting a showcase Thursday to share inventions.

by Rebecca Harrington

University of Minnesota researchers have developed an iPad app that can animate surgical procedures in 3-D in the palm of a user’s hand.

It’s just one of the technologies that will be showcased at an Office for Technology Commercialization  event  Thursday in McNamara Alumni Center.

At the innovation showcase, campus inventors — including students, professors and staff — will be able to show their work not only to the general public but also to investors and potential licensees.

Doug Johnson, director of OTC, said the goal of the showcase is to bring University inventions to companies in the area who could commercialize them.

The showcase, Innovation Showcase: Software & Physical Sciences,  represents the shift the OTC has taken to build more relationships with companies.

“We’re building a reputation amongst companies in the area who look to the University now for innovation,” Johnson said.

In 2011, the University made $10.1 million from revenue-generating agreements, which include University patents and licenses. A license is when an inventor allows a licensee, such as a company, to use his or her invention; a patent protects an invention from being copied. U.S. patents last 20 years.

In order to receive a patent, an invention has to be novel, useful and “non-obvious,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The University filed 78 patents and 76 licenses in 2011.

While the University owns all technology made by people who work, study or use resources here, inventors receive one-third of the royalties from their invention. The Office of the Vice President for Research receives another third, and the final third is split between the inventor’s college and department.

Filing a U.S. patent can cost $5,000 to $12,000, and filing an international patent can cost up to five times as much. OVPR uses part of its third of invention revenues to pay these fees.

The road to receiving a patent or license can be long, but it all starts with an idea.

For more on University innovation and inventions, pick up Sept. 27’s issue of the Minnesota Daily.