How Drexel climbed up this list of universities with the most patents - Philly


Jul. 14, 2016 12:44 pm

How Drexel climbed up this list of universities with the most patents

The National Academy of Inventors released its annual ranking of 100 universities with the most patents today. Drexel came in at 49, up from 94 three years ago.
Inside Drexel University.

Inside Drexel University.

(Photo by Roberto Torres)

Every year since 2013, the National Academy of Inventors has been listing the top 100 universities that obtained the most U.S. Utility Patents, using data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

And every year, Drexel University has been climbing up the ladder. Up from the 94th slot in the 2013 edition, the most recent list (which uses data from 2015) has them placed at #49, making Drexel the 37th U.S. college with the most utility patents awarded. According to the list, Drexel was awarded 42 utility patents in 2015.

The latest edition of the ranking, which was released Tuesday, gave the University of California (the whole system, for what it’s worth) the No. 1 spot with 489 patents awarded.

The University of Pennsylvania has also consistently been featured in the list since its inception. Last year it landed the 14th spot, but this year it fell to #19.

Drexel, on the other hand, has steadily been climbing on each edition of the list. Barely making the cut in the 2013 edition at spot number 94, by 2014 it hit the 68th slot. By 2015 it was number 61, finally cracking the top 50 mark this year.

“The average reported research expenditures in 2014 for the U.S. institutions listed above us in the rankings, which includes the entire University of California and University of Texas systems, is more than $900 million, compared to our $111 million,” said Drexel President John Fry in a statement released Tuesday.

According to their calculations, a dollar spent on research at Drexel turns in the same patented innovation returns on average as $3.50 spent at larger institutions like Stanford University and the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.


“This ranking is something we should all be proud of. It’s another proof point that we are true leaders when it comes to academic innovation,” said Fry.

But how did the University City college manage to make that leap? According to Bob McGrath, Senior Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director of Technology Commercialization at Drexel, it has to do with faculty members coming up with close to 120 yearly inventions.

“They give us a lot of good stuff to work with,” McGrath said. “We look at those inventions and figure out what a good market would be for that. This way, we’ve built a strong pipleine of innovations in cue with priorities at the Patent’s office.”

That still doesn’t explain the upswing. Pushed further for an answer, he said the growth is also stemmed from the support system put in place over the past four years to help innovations get out into the market place, which includes counseling and access to funding, as well as initiatives like the Innovation Center.

“We’ve started to create an environment where these initiatives can thrive,” McGrath said.

Companies: Drexel University
People: John Fry

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