In 2008, the four-campus system of the University of Missouri (MU) spent $1.2 million on its licensing ventures and got a return of $6.4 million on their investment. Forsee is projecting that by 2014, licensing royalties will reach $50 million. A 781% growth rate seems overly optimistic to Dr. Joshua B. Powers, an expert from Indiana State University who studies academic entrepreneurship and intellectual property, who recently said, "If you look across the country at the data, the odds are stacked against that kind of success."
Dr. Powers ventured further on the topic, stating, "I think there's some naivetÃ© across the country amongst senior administrator types thinking, 'Wow if the University of Florida can do it or if MIT can do it, then of course we can do it', and they may be able to do it, but if you look at the data - it's going to be a tall, tall challenge."
Powers' research indicates that of the 160 U.S. universities who are claiming a positive return on their intellectual property investments, the top ten research universities, including Yale, Harvard, Duke, MIT and Columbia, are generating over 60% of these royalties.
With the odds stacked against these projections and financial pressure mounting, could the University of Missouri's lawsuit against Professor Galen J. Suppes be aimed at easing its money woes or intimidating other faculty inventors to tow the line?
Popular with students, a prolific academic writer and inventor and winner of one of the EPA's top honors: the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award - sounds like a feather in the cap of the University of Missouri... But he was instead recognized in a lawsuit filed in Federal court charging him with thwarting the rights of the University, losing it profits, prestige and opportunities.