University funds have a unique opportunity to bridge the gap to commercialisation.

Until the 2008 financial crisis, the formula for commercializing university inventions had remained unchanged for a half century – intellectual property (IP) rights to develop university technologies are licensed to companies, and universities are paid royalties on the basis of the success of these technologies. Often, IP rights are transferred to new start- ups that rely on funding from venture capital groups.

In the past few years, this model has begun to change. Far fewer venture capital funds are investing in risky, early stage technologies, consolidation and outsourcing in ‘big pharma’ has resulted in more limited transactions with universities, and the dwindling number of initial public offerings (IPOs) has shifted investor exits toward acquisitions, which in turn are constrained by the capacity of large companies to engage in mergers and acquisition activity.

Funding from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) for early development work has also declined…

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