Expanded MN-IP program lets companies test-drive innovation

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Most people won’t invest in a new car before they get behind the wheel and take it for a spin. At the University of Minnesota, businesses interested in university technology now have the same opportunity.

The U’s Minnesota Innovation Partnerships (MN-IP), a unique program to make university-industry collaboration more business-friendly by lowering the cost and risk of sponsoring research, recently expanded to include MN-IP Try and Buy. The new option lets businesses take previously completed university research for a test drive to gauge its commercial potential. With Try and Buy, companies receive a low-cost agreement to analyze technology under pre-negotiated licensing terms. The company owes no royalties for the first $1 million in revenue, doesn’t have to pay U.S. patent costs until patent issuance, and Minnesota companies receive discounts.

“MN-IP Try and Buy lets companies more easily explore university research and bring cutting-edge technology to the market,” said Jay Schrankler, executive director of the U’s Office for Technology Commercialization. “The program encourages partnerships that create new possibilities in innovation and boost our economy. It’s a win not only for industry and the university, but for the state as a whole.”

The new Try and Buy expands beyond the original function of MN-IP introduced in 2011: sponsoring research. Through the original program (now called MN-IP Create), companies can sponsor university research and pay a low, one-time fee upfront for exclusive worldwide license to the resulting intellectual property. All terms and conditions are established before the technology is developed, so businesses experience transparency and predictability when working with the university. The program was recently recognized by a White House blog for fostering university-industry partnerships and strengthening the U.S.’s economic competitiveness.

Through all MN-IP programs, companies are taking advantage of the U of M’s world-class talent and facilities. The program has already resulted in 83 partnerships to develop products and services across industries like composite materials, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The partnering companies range from small local startups to large multinationals.

Originally published on Business @ the U of M.