LSU Proof of Concept Fund Launched with $2 Million

LSU LIFT, or Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer, Fund will support commercialization of faculty intellectual property through small grants for applied research on proof of concept

In addition to approving changes to its regulations governing technology transfer and commercialization at LSU, the LSU Board of Supervisors today approved the creation of the LSU LIFT Fund – Leveraging Innovation for Technology Transfer – and launched it with $2 million in restricted funds generated by previously-licensed LSU inventions.

“This is exactly the kind of resource we need to provide our faculty with momentum to more effectively transfer innovation out of the lab and into the market,” said LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander. “The LSU LIFT Fund will now support our faculty’s most promising inventions in that difficult-to-fund phase between basic research and commercialization.”

The LSU LIFT Fund will provide small grants to faculty on a competitive basis, twice a year, in amounts up to $50,000, to validate the market potential of their inventions; the first LIFT grants are expected to be awarded by July 1 of this year. This type of funding is typically very difficult to secure, creating a gap between basic research support and marketable products. The Board also approved a recommendation to permanently sustain the LSU LIFT Fund by allocating 5 percent of the university’s future intellectual property licensing income directly to the new fund.

“Our committee is proud to have served our university in this capacity, and we are thrilled that the Board has created the LSU LIFT Fund with such a significant balance,” said Arthur Cooper, chair of the LSU President’s Committee on Technology Transfer, or PCTT, and CEO of the LSU System Research & Technology Foundation. “Launching the LSU LIFT Fund this way sends a strong message to our faculty and our external partners that LSU is serious about innovation and entrepreneurship.”

The Board also received the report of the PCTT, which outlined a new approach to technology transfer at LSU in partnership with the LSU System Research & Technology Foundation, or RTF.  The RTF will provide centralized administrative support functions to each of the campuses, enhancing productivity while allowing each to manage its own operations. The budget for this partnership is expected to replace what the campuses currently spend on external legal fees each year, and will be shared according to a formula based upon each campus’ relative proportion of LSU’s total annual research expenditures.

“This new policy and LIFT Fund should greatly increase the number of inventions moving from the laboratory to the marketplace and create new opportunities for LSU students to find great jobs in Louisiana once they graduate,” said Stephen Waguespack, president of LABI. “We support LSU in making this and other changes that will have a major impact on our state’s workforce and innovation sectors.”

“This new, collaborative approach to commercialization at LSU will advance innovation while being more responsive to the needs of both faculty and business,” said J. Stephen Perry, member of the LSU Board of Supervisors and chair of its Research & Economic Development Committee. “The LSU LIFT Fund will provide our excellent faculty with a new means of advancing their innovative research towards the market and will support LSU’s critical role in building an innovation economy across Louisiana. I am thrilled that we can kick-start this initiative by launching the LIFT Fund with such a significant initial investment.”

The Board’s Research & Economic Development Committee  today recommended these new programs to the full board.

“Biomedical innovation – a key driver of economic development – will be greatly improved by the change in the tech transfer approach and new LIFT Fund,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Considering the prospect for biomedical research in New Orleans, this has real potential to help catalyze research, commercialization and new company formation.”

The full report of the technology transfer recommendations provided by the PCTT is available at http://www.lsusystem.edu/docs/agenda/2014/20140131TechnlogyTransferReport.pdf.

“This streamlined approach to commercialization and technology transfer indicates an acceleration of LSU’s already considerable commitment to licensing intellectual property, and the LIFT fund provides the support necessary to sustain this effort,” said Joseph Lovett, managing director of Louisiana Fund I. “This is an exciting moment for Louisiana’s business community, and we look forward to working even more closely with LSU in the future.”