UA is third among Ohio universities at patent production and 94th in the world.
Researchers at Akron earned 20 patents in the 2012 calendar year, trailing only Ohio State and Case Western Reserve University in the state.
The number of patents awarded to UA should continue to increase, says Kenneth Preston, associate vice president for research and director of technology transfer.
UA's patent production has increased over the last five years and appears poised to continue in that direction.
UA has invested significantly in faculty research in engineering and other science fields over the last decade. Akron researchers filed 50 percent more invention disclosures in 2011-13 than they did in 2008-10. Typically, it takes three to five years for patent protection to follow a disclosure.
About 35 percent of UA’s patents protect discoveries in polymers, but Akron is also strong in medical technology (20 percent), computers and devices (15 percent) and advanced materials (9 percent).
A reduction in federal research funding is prompting more faculty researchers here and elsewhere to seek patents for their work.
“Faculty members looking for alternative funding sources have discovered that having a strong intellectual property portfolio is helpful,” Preston says.
The University’s Tech Transfer Office is centrally located in the Goodyear Polymer Building, making it easy and convenient for faculty researchers to consult with experts about protecting and marketing their inventions.
“Faculty members can be hesitant to file disclosures because they view the process as complicated and onerous,” says Susan Dollinger, director of industry partnerships in the Tech Transfer Office. “We try to make the process efficient, painless, and a valuable experience for researchers.”
Not every research university has a tech transfer office so focused on faculty research, Preston points out. Preston credits the University’s senior leadership. “They support research and understand it,” he said. “We wouldn’t be as strong as we are today without that leadership support.”
The National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association compiled the ranking of patents earned in 2012, based on data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
UA is a charter member of the National Academy of Inventors.
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