Carnegie Mellon opened its Technology Transfer Office in 1993 to help researchers commercialize their innovations and start new companies. At the time it was one of a very few places where university entrepreneurs could go for help.
Since its inception, the office has helped to spin off about 50 companies and has produced intellectual property licensing agreements with about 65 commercial firms. Overall, more than 120 Pittsburgh area companies, which employ thousands of people, have been founded by Carnegie Mellon principals or with university technology.
The university and its inventors have shared more than $60 million in royalties and capital gains with the majority of that total ($48 million) coming from the sale of the university's stock in Lycos, an Internet search engine developed at Carnegie Mellon by Michael Mauldin, formerly of the School of Computer Science (SCS). The Lycos deal helped fund construction of Newell-Simon Hall, the new home of SCS.
But times are changing in Pittsburgh and so is tech transfer at Carnegie Mellon.
Pittsburgh has become a friendlier place for individuals seeking to bring new concepts to market and to start new companies. There are many more experienced
entrepreneurs in the community and regional economic development organizations with the business acumen to advise and counsel, and there are many, many more resources available. In 2000, the Pittsburgh Technology Council reported that the venture capital coming into the region reached an all-time high of $741 million, 233% more than in 1999.
Spurred by the changing climate, Carnegie Mellon's University Research Council (URC), a committee of faculty and staff representing all colleges and schools and who have experience with commercialization, has crafted a new collaborative tech transfer approach called Innovation Exchange (www.carnegiemellon.edu/innovation). The URC is chaired by Vice Provost for Corporate Partnerships and Technology Development Christina Gabriel. More..