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(The Center Square) – John Woodson almost grabbed his checkbook when he saw the Missouri University of Science and Technology’s royalties from patents was less than $4,000 short of hitting the $1 million mark.

“I was so disappointed to fall short, I almost wanted to write a personal check to get there,” said Woodson, the acting director of the university’s Technology Transfer and Economic Development (TTED) department.

The $996,235 in royalties was an increase of 38% compared to fiscal year 2021 and a record for the institution. The royalty funds, split three ways, go to the inventor, the inventor’s university department, and TTED to fund its operations. TTED doesn’t receive any student tuition or fees or directly receive tax dollars.

TTED filed 36 new patent applications and was granted seven U.S. patents during fiscal year 2022. It accepted 24 invention disclosures, confidential documents submitted when an invention might be patented or be commercially valuable in the future. Woodson said TTED utilizes Missouri patent attorneys for most of the legal work.

The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act allows universities to pursue ownership of an invention created through a federally funded research project. The institutions or other federal grant recipients can hold patents and license the rights to commercial enterprises in the private sector.

BIO, the world’s largest trade association for biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the U.S. and 30 other nations, said the Bayh-Dole Act contributed to $1.3 trillion in U.S. economic activity. It also created 4.2 million jobs and led to more than 11,000 start-up companies.

“Bayh-Dole allows a return on the investment for those research dollars,” Woodson said. “The return on investment is protecting any intellectual property generated by the patent or copyright. Then, we find a commercial home for it instead of just letting it sit in a university lab. That’s the whole focus of technology transfer offices.”

TTED is a hub for technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, business and economic development at the university.

“There are a lot of great minds here at S&T,” Woodson said. “The more things we can develop and the more that industries work with us, we will be able to patent more things and keep going. Some of the licensees are local and some are with worldwide conglomerates. We touch the local, state, national and global economy.”

Staff Reporter

Joe Mueller covers Missouri for The Center Square. After seven years of reporting for daily newspapers in Illinois and Missouri, he spent the next 30 years in public relations serving non-profit organizations and as a strategic communications consultant.