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Science Trust’s Tech Transfer Office to Jumpstart Commercialization of Intellectual Property

By on February 26, 2016

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust says its Technology Transfer Office, the entity in charge of fostering the commercialization of locally developed scientific inventions and discoveries, is finally becoming fully operational.

One of the goals of the Trust is to double the amount of local patents in five years. The number of local patents registered with the U.S. Patent Office for Puerto Rico from 1963 to 2014 was 1,045, which is less than one for every 100,000 inhabitants.

Trust Chief Executive Officer Lucy Crespo said the Technology Transfer Office is headed by David Gulley, a technology transfer professional with 30 years of experience in technology based economic development who, until recently, led the establishment of 20 technology transfer offices at universities in Chile. For 25 years he provided leadership for the University of Illinois system and its Chicago campus as an associate vice president and assistant vice chancellor, leading academic-industry collaborations, technology transfer, incubation and research park initiatives.

Crespo told Caribbean Business that the Technology Transfer Office has forged liaisons with four Puerto Rico universities, a key component in the effort to commercialize intellectual property that comes out of the academic research.

The liaisons are Luis Ángel Cubano, associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Universidad Central del Caribe; Salvatore Casale, director of the Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation at University of Puerto Rico’s Molecular Sciences Research Building; Ángel González, director of the Plasma Engineering Laboratory at Polytechnic University; Jorge Silva Puras at Universidad del Sagrado Corazón; and Alvin García from Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez.

Crespo said that while the office is already working, it has now made the strategic alliances needed to jumpstart the commercialization of intellectual property.

The universities in Puerto Rico receive an average of $140 million a year in research and development grants. Of that amount, around 50 percent is destined to research in life sciences; 15 percent in physical sciences and 10 percent to engineering research.

However, Crespo acknowledged that patenting scientific inventions is a complex and costly endeavor. The very nature of patenting entails that an inventor must come up with something unique compared with the prior art. Only 5 percent to 10 percent of discoveries are patented, she said.  

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