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Governor signs agreement to market University of Puerto Rico patents

By on January 18, 2018

SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Wednesday the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), the Science & Technology and Research Trust (PRST), and the Economic Development & Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish acronym) to streamline the transfer of technology and the commercialization of intellectual property developed in the island’s public academic institution.

“In addition to the tools we already have, such as Act 73 and the amendments that give innovators an additional incentive of up to 50% of capital to stay in Puerto Rico, so if they have that incentive but cannot patent their inventions, it will be difficult to try to convince the innovators to come to the island; therefore, this agreement is a critical piece,” the governor stressed.

“With initiatives like this [one], we position the UPR and Puerto Rico worldwide as a provider of opportunities in research and development, as well as technology transfer and job creation, by creating university companies,” Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said. (Courtesy photo)

“This agreement will allow the talent of our UPR, in many disciplines, to contribute even more to Puerto Rico’s development, being a way to add more funds and give it the recognition it deserves,” he added.

Meanwhile, UPR interim President Darrel Hillman said the agreement “is a great step for Puerto Rico’s economic development; it is the link in the chain to take research toward commercialization.”

Hillman explained that the agreement has the purpose of facilitating the transfer of technology and the commercialization of UPR’s intellectual property, while also allowing for the university to receive royalties, which will help the institution to generate new revenue.

During the past five years, 20 patents have been granted to the UPR. At the moment, there are 41 applications before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).

The UPR currently has only one patent license, with the Research Foundation of the University of Georgia (UGARF), for which it receives $20,000 annually.

As for the PRST, its chief executive officer, Lucy Crespo, said this agreement will allow the PRST’s Technology Transfer Office to manage this process and take the discoveries and inventions developed by the UPR to the market.

“Intellectual property is one of the [strongest] assets a society has. Our aspiration is to complement our Trust programs forcproducts and services to be developed. This includes existing patents and new inventions that are developed using PRST grant funds,” Crespo said.

To questions from the press, Crespo gave details of current projects, and said the expectation is to start seeing income next year and to use it in other universities. In addition, she said UPR patents will be reviewed to evaluate its current portfolio and their maintenance costs.

Meanwhile, the director of the Technology Transfer Office of the PRST, David Gulley, spoke about the expectations of this alliance, which “seeks to protect these new innovation projects through patents to establish new commercialization capabilities. Many of these licenses require a startup to attract capital and develop these micro-companies into midsize companies or to partner with larger companies. So, our job is to identify, filter, advise, protect, agree and license these companies.”

“With initiatives like this, we position the UPR and Puerto Rico worldwide as a provider of opportunities in research and development, as well as technology transfer and job creation, when university companies are created,” the governor added.

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