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University urged to market its research

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Stansley, right.

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The University of Toledo Board of Trustees discussed the need to commercialize university research yesterday, referencing a Sunday article in The Blade showing that a decline in patents - and not manufacturing job loss - was the cause of Ohio's economic pains.

In his comments to the board, Chairman Richard Stansley said that the trustees should devote a future meeting to regional economic development.

"It's one of the things we do the least about," Mr. Stansley said.

One of those pressing issues is Ohio's decline in patents per capita, according to a recent study.

Using more than 75 years of data involving tax rates, climate, and other possible reasons for Ohio's net loss of 176,100 jobs since 2000, the study concluded that patents and education levels were the key predictors of income.

Ohio ranked sixth nationally in patents per capita in 1954, but it dropped to 20th by 2001.

Patents transform research into a product capable of generating investments, profits, and jobs.

UT has a division responsible for commercializing its research, but Mr. Stansley said entrepreneurs must learn more about how the university's discoveries could help them.

"What happens is that we - our community - have fallen short in taking this new knowledge to the point of commercialization," he said later.

Trustee Susan Farrell Palmer noted at the meeting that a digital animation initiative at the university reflected the value of patents.

The university's Center for Creative Instruction developed "Anatomy Revealed," an interactive CD that allows students to learn about the human body, layer by layer. In 2003, it contracted with textbook publisher McGraw-Hill to distribute "Anatomy Revealed" and a second program called "Anatomy and Physiology Revealed."

Net sales of the programs so far this year are $1.6 million, with the university receiving $231,000 in royalties, already a 43 percent increase in royalties from last year.

When UT merged with the Medical University of Ohio this summer, its combined research expenditures were $53 million, a sum university officials said was too small to play a lead role in developing new technologies and spawning businesses for metropolitan Toledo.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs plans to expand research expenditures by recruiting as many as 20 professors, who would bring government and foundation grants with them.

Contact Joshua Boak at:

jboak@theblade.com

or 419-724-6728.

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