Virginia Tech ranked among the top 100 universities in the world for U.S. utility patents in 2014, according to a new report released by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. 

The top 100 report, based on data obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, recognizes the role patents play in university research.

Virginia Tech ranked No. 93 because of 23 patents that it received in 2014 through Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc., an affiliated corporation of Virginia Tech that provides technology transfer and commercialization services to faculty, staff, and students.

“I would like to give credit and extend a special acknowledgement and thanks to our inventors, who, without their innovation, none of these patents would have been successfully prosecuted and issued,” said Mark Coburn, president of Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties.

Among the examples, Joseph Merola, a professor of chemistry in the College of Science, and  colleagues were granted a patent for compounds that they found to be effective against tuberculosis and methicillin resistant Staph aureus infections, widely known as MRSA.

“The environment for innovation is great at Virginia Tech," said Merola, who is affiliated with the Virginia Tech Drug Discovery Center. "The intellectual property policies are very development and inventor friendly, the resources to patent new inventions are good, and the collaborative atmosphere on campus is perfect to move things along.”

Rafael Davalos, a professor of biomedical engineering in the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences and an affiliate of the Fralin Life Science Institute and the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, received patents for a minimally invasive surgical procedure that selectively treats cancer cells by using electric fields coupled with cancer targeting nanoparticles developed by his team.

“Virginia Tech and its institutes provide a supportive environment that brings inventors and collaborators together to facilitate getting their technology to the patient,” Davalos said.

The National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association compile the rankings each year by counting the number of utility patents — the most common type of patent used to protect inventions — in which the university is listed as the first assignee. 

In that respect, Virginia Tech patents with partners such as Rolls-Royce and Intel, when it is not the first assignee, do not count for ranking purposes, even though university inventors helped create the intellectual property.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Share this story