2016 Innovation in Numbers
The key metrics for 2016 are looking really positive, with some great trends, such as an increased number of first time inventors. The total income from IP commercialisation was R15.2m and were once again 2 new UCT spin-off companies were formed. 67 new patent applications were filed at different stages of patenting and 59 patents were granted. Of particular note, RC&I were thrilled to receive 56 new invention disclosures, which was 33.3 % above the 2015 figure and sets a new high-water mark! The reasons for this high disclosure rate were investigated.
It was found that 20% of the invention disclosures were associated with seed funded innovation projects, which have increased in number due to the availability of TIA Seed funding and the outreach to the UCT research community by the commercialisation team at RC&I. Researchers either approached RC&I for innovation funding and it was found that there was protectable IP, or protectable IP emerged as a result of conducting the development work.
There was also increased disclosure in the fields of ICT, energy as well as Civil Engineering. Six inventions disclosures (10% of the total) came from the HySA Catalysis Centre and all of these represented protectable IP. We once again received a number of disclosures from the Biomedical Engineering group who have incorporated IP assessment as a key part of their postgraduate medical device design course. The number of first time inventors increased significantly over 2015, where they were essentially in equal proportion to our serial inventors.
This past year, the bulk of the income was associated with profits from a company being incubated within UCT, which will be spun out in 2017. Licensing income was lower than 2015 (R1,755,948 vs. R3,734,302) with only minimum annual royalties being received, rather than specific milestone payments that had accrued in 2015. 12 licensing and option deals were signed and some will yield modest royalty income as early as 2017, whilst for others there is still significant development before products will reach the market and a return is seen.