Commercialization of discoveries and inventions by U.S. academic institutions showed "healthy gains in 2012," according to an annual survey by the Association of University Technology Managers, as reported by Science Business. "Discoveries disclosed, patents, licenses and licensing income, and start-up companies formed" all rose, the post continues.

At the 194 institutions that responded to the survey (out of 299 queried), new patent applications numbered 14,224 and patents awarded numbered 5145, which is an increase of 7% and 9.5%, respectively, over the preceding year.  In addition, disclosure of potentially commercial discoveries was also up by nearly 9%. And the income from licenses to the institutions' research rose by 6.8% to $2.6 billion, according to the survey report.

The 705 new spin-off companies that respondents reported creating in 2012 represented a year-over-year increase of 5%. The approximately 4000 existing spin-offs that they reported as still in business when the 2012 fiscal year ended represented a "modest 2 percent gain" over the previous year, according to Science Business

Two measures that were essentially flat, however, were the number of new products that came to market during the year and the research-based companies’ net sales. Still, looking to future possibilities, sponsored research funding rose by 4.1% in 2012, a welcome change from a 5.9% decline in 2011, the survey report notes. This happened despite "essentially flat" federal support and reflected increases of 2.4% in funding by industry and of 10.7% from "all other sources."

Beryl Lieff Benderly writes from Washington, D.C.

10.1126/science.caredit.a1300166