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UCLA launches effort to bolster inventions and revenues

UCLA Medical Center
The medical center at UCLA may be a source of new discoveries and research patents for the campus.
(Stefano Paltera / For the Times)

UCLA on Wednesday launched a new, not-for-profit affiliate and advisory board that will seek to increase the number of patents stemming from faculty research, then get the inventions and discoveries into the commercial realm faster.

Westwood Technology Transfer will help oversee the campus’ existing office for intellectual properties and industry-sponsored research. Its 10-member board of directors of financial, managerial, technological and academic experts will help identify promising research and forge licensing agreements, officials said.

“The goal is to accelerate and improve the decision-making and to accelerate the discoveries emerging from our labs and classrooms for social benefit,” said UCLA Associate Vice Chancellor Brendan Rauw, who is president and chief executive of the new oversight organization. “We think we can make smarter decisions and help contribute to the campus that way.”

UCLA holds about 700 patents. Last year the university earned about $39 million in licensing income, shared with the inventors, from those copyrights, Rauw said.

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In addition, the campus attracted about the same amount in industry-sponsored research and about $1 billion in overall research grants, mainly from federal agencies, he said.

The organization and board may become a model for the other nine UC campuses as the university system struggles to bolster revenues beyond traditional state tax dollars and tuition.

The move dovetails with the creation last week of a UC system venture capital fund that seeks to invest $250 million in new companies and possibly gain equity profits that could help pay faculty salaries and other costs.

Follow me @larrygordonlat

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