Royalties from inventions a volatile income source for U of M

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The University of Minnesota's revenue from inventions its researchers developed plummeted by $75 million in two years. But the drop was almost entirely due to the expiration of one patent, for an anti-AIDS drug. USA Today reports many universities face challenges when it comes to maintaining revenue from their breakthrough inventions.

A survey released in August found the country's leading research universities pulled in $1.8 billion worth of royalties in a year. The sources range from an anti-seizure drug at Northwestern University to new varieties of wheat to Gatorade. But revenue from royalties can fluctuate, depending on what products are hot and on the cycle of patent protection and marketing.

A ranking of licensing income at research universities shows the U of M 31st, between Indiana and Vanderbilt.

Some academics say universities are stepping up the emphasis on entrepreneurship as funding from other sources tightens. Minnesota announced this fall that the number of startup companies launched by U of M research reached a new high in the last fiscal year.

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