The LSU Research and Technology Foundation touted the success of its LIFT grant program today before the LSU Board of Supervisors, and won approval for an additional $200,000 to cover fees associated with the “significant increase” in patents filed with the university.
The board created the LIFT—Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer—program in 2014 to award grants of up to $50,000 to faculty members in an effort to help bring their innovations to market. It has since awarded more than $3.5 million in grants to 96 recipients, 43 of whom have completed their research.
But has the university seen any return on investment? LSU Research and Technology Foundation CEO Arthur Cooper said yes, adding LIFT-funded technologies have begun to generate additional money in the form of equity, licensing fees and research dollars. Seven recipients have received more than $1.2 million in additional funding.
“The program continues to excel in research and is finally seeing results,” Cooper said.
The LIFT program has also executed eight license agreements and two option agreements. Another 10 licenses are in negotiations for technologies that received LIFT funding.
The program also spurred a substantial rise in patent activity at LSU. In years prior, the university averaged 47 patents a year, but in the program’s first year 84 patents were filed. Another 132 were filed the second year, and 182 last year.
LSU campuses overspent their budgets as a result of increased legal fees and related expenses for the patents, which is why the Research and Technology Foundation asked the board for an additional $200,000 to cover the extra charges.
In terms of return on investment, Cooper considers licensing technologies a better metric than money because these innovations are advancing technology and research at LSU. The university ramped up efforts to tie faculty research to economic development in recent years, after a 2012 report found Louisiana lagged behind other states in academic research and bringing university innovations to market.
Today, LSU appears to have a better standing among peers in terms of technology-transfer. The state’s flagship university ranks 5th in technology-transfer research and 3rd in technology-transfer income among universities in the Southeastern Conference, Cooper noted.
Promoting LIFT’s success, scientists from Pennington Biomedical Research Center presented to the Board of Supervisors their new weight-loss program, supported by $49,500 in seed funding from LSU’s LIFT program. BodyKey SmartLoss was launched in March in partnership with direct-selling giant Amway Corp.
“SmartLoss is fine example of what the LIFT program is about,” said board member Rolfe McCollister, who is also the publisher of Business Report, and was the only board member to ask questions during the presentation. “The idea is that we get to see results.”