DURHAM – Duke University’s Office for Translation & Commercialization (OTC), which handles all Duke-owned intellectual property, has announced another banner year for getting Duke inventions out into society, according to just-released fiscal year 2023 data.
“Breaking the $100 million revenue milestone is a big accomplishment and speaks highly of the innovative faculty and the value of their research, as well as the staff of OTC for getting these deals done,” said Robin Rasor, Associate VP for Translation & Commercialization. “Royalty revenue goes back to inventors and their labs, departments, and schools, further supporting new innovation.”
OTC also supports start-ups spinning out of the university. This past fiscal year, OTC helped spin out 15 new start-up companies: nine from the School of Medicine, three from the Pratt School of Engineering, and three from all other units.
Even considering the economic headwinds, Duke start-ups had a strong showing: the cohort of 124 currently active pre-IPO companies raised over $395 million and three were acquired.
“We’re heartened by the market acceptance of our inventions and startups,” Rasor said.
“As the early-stage technology financing markets have undergone a dramatic downward shift over the course of the past year, we have accelerated our efforts at Duke New Ventures to bring additional resource to our entrepreneurial technical founders,” said Jeff Welch, Director of New Ventures. “We’ve expanded our team of Mentors in Residence and brought actively investing venture capitalists to the Triangle to learn about our technologies through live pitches and meetings. Through these efforts we are successfully defying the current market challenges of helping our entrepreneurs get new robust companies off and running.”
Also supporting Duke-affiliated start-ups is Duke Capital Partners (DCP), which officially joined OTC last fiscal year. In FY23, the partners made 12 investments totaling $10.8 million. Of that total, $7.5 million went to companies founded by faculty and students around their Duke-owned intellectually property.
Since its inception in 2015, DCP portfolio companies have raised $1.3 billion and are valued at $5.0 billion. DCP is also investing in companies earlier, in the pre-seed and seed stage, through its new Catalyst Program. Three Catalyst financings were completed this fiscal year, two of which were led by DCP.
“We’re excited to continue to support Duke faculty founders, as well as innovators within the broader Duke community. The University’s research translation and commercialization activities move ideas from the lab to the marketplace, and we are proud to back ambitious, bold founders,” said Kurt Schmidt, Managing Director of Duke Capital Partners. “This year Duke Capital Partners closed some of its largest financings to date, which is a clear indicator of the confidence investors have in Duke innovations. And with the launch of our Catalyst Program, we’ve increased our capacity to invest in promising start-ups at their earliest stages.”
At the other end of the commercialization pipeline, OTC now has more capabilities and resources to support promising technologies in initial stages of development. This past fiscal year, OTC launched the Gilhuly Accelerator Fund to accelerate commercialization by supporting asset development and de-risking activities.
More than $1 million has already been allocated to 14 ongoing projects from across the School of Medicine, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. These teams have also gone on to receive over $3 million in follow-on funding. One spinout has been formed and others in the works – indicators that these projects, though early-stage, are high potential.
Helping OTC along the innovation pipeline is an ambitious cohort of graduate students and trainees who were selected for one of three experiential learning programs run by the office: OTC Fellows, New Ventures Fellows, and Duke Capital Partner Associates.
FY23 brought the largest group of fellows into these programs, with 60 early career trainees assessing disclosed technologies, partnering to support start-ups, and evaluating investment opportunities.
Want to learn more about the innovation pipeline at Duke and inventor successes? RSVP for the free Invented at Duke event, evening of Tuesday, Nov. 28.
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