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UCSD Tech Transfer Office marks 20 years

UCSD’s Technology Transfer Office celebrated its 20th anniversary Tuesday with some of the 200 companies the office has helped spin out of the university, and remarks from Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Vice Chancellor of Research Sandra Brown and Qualcomm Inc. founder Irwin Jacobs.

The Tech Transfer Office is charged with facilitating the flow of University of California San Diego inventions, patents, licenses and research from the lab to industry partners for commercial applications.

The office has worked with 6,000 inventions, 1,000 patents and 2,000 licenses since its inception in 1995, Khosla said. In the 34 years from UCSD’s founding and the office’s location on campus, the office operated in UC’s Office of the President (OP).

“As always, it is OP’s fault,” Khosla said jokingly. “OP was trying to control everything, as they always do. They had tech transfer sitting right in OP. I guess it was not functioning that well, and in 34 years we had grown from a nothing institution to one of the powerhouses in the country, and so we created our own technology transfer office.”

Jacobs, founder of Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), said that while the Technology Transfer Office wasn’t around when he started teaching at UCSD in 1966, he’s now involved with the UCSD Entrepreneurs Challenge, and is particularly excited to integrate the latest health technologies in his namesake Jacobs Medical Center, which will open in 2016.

“One of the things we’re looking forward to is seeing the transfer of a lot of the research that’s happening on campus and in the institutions around this mesa, see that get transferred over to the hospital very rapidly,” Jacobs said.

“One of the things that is happening in the world these days … is that technology is beginning to play a role in helping monitor health … There are a lot of sensors that allow one to take measurements of the body, send them to the cellphone, which can then process a lot of data and send it on to a network sensor that can make that information available and create a big data set that can indeed be analyzed.

“In the medical center, there’s now going to be one room that some of the patients … can get instructions on some of that equipment they’ll be using at home to monitor their health.”

While Khosla noted that the process of moving innovation from lab to market is dynamic and fluid, Brown said this was an apt time for celebration.

“This is a very nice time for us to have this celebration, because as many of you know, our Chancellor Pradeep Khosla led us through an enormous strategic plan process recently and we are now in the phase of implementing that strategic pan,” Brown said.

Part of that plan includes making tech transfer increasingly seamless and frictionless for partners in and out of the university. Jacobs, for one, is confident this will prove successful.

“So the first 20 years of technology transfer indeed have been obviously quite successful, and allowed a number of companies to start up,” he said.

“I suspect the next 20 years are going to be even more spectacular, and it’s going to be fun — I hope — to be here and watch it all happen.”

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