A record-breaking year for moving UF technologies to market

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he University of Florida’s Office of Technology Licensing signed a record 122 licenses and options and launched 17 startup companies in fiscal year 2015-16, topping last year’s total of 85 licenses by 43 percent. Officials cited a favorable economic climate, more than $700 million in university research and hard work by an experienced tech transfer staff as reasons for the increase.

“Our top-ranked tech transfer operation is driving economic development and cycling royalty dollars back into research,” said David Norton, vice president for research. “More importantly, it’s moving the research out of the lab and into the world.”

It was a big year for UF startups, including the gene-therapy company AGTC, which UF’s technology transfer staff helped found nearly two decades ago. Back then, big pharmaceutical companies didn’t see the financial upside to researcher Nicholas Muzyczka’s adeno-associated virus technology. A smaller startup company needed to show the technology’s potential before patients could benefit. In July, the NASDAQ-listed company, based in Alachua, became the first UF startup to land a billion-dollar deal when it announced a collaboration with the global biotech company Biogen to further develop gene-based therapies for rare eye diseases.