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Currently, OIPA is managing 725 active cases in its intellectual-property portfolio,
with 350 active, issued patents. UCLA’s licensing activity returns $10
million a year in royalty and fee income, which is shared with inventors, their
labs and research programs at UCLA.
Although Neighbour is very optimistic about OIPA’s growth, “It
will be many years before we see a commensurate increase in revenues, because
you only really see big money when you have a product selling in the marketplace
and you’re collecting annual royalties,” he notes. “The lead
time from license to the market can be anywhere from two to 15 years.”
Yet, he adds, “At the end of the day, tech transfer is not about the
money. Tech transfer is about creating an environment where our researchers
will flourish. It’s a business-development process.”
Parhami is eager to move forward — but he is patient. He is seeking what
he estimates to be about $11 million in research and development support over
a period of five years. He will start, he hopes, with about $600,000 from the
Tech Coast Angels. “That will get us to the next stage,” he says,
“to the next round of financing.
“We wouldn’t have gotten this far without the positive feedback
and guidance of OIPA,” Parhami says. “They just kept telling me,
‘Come back and work with us. One way or another we’re going to try
to help you.’ ”
If funding doesn’t materialize, he says, an alternative might be to find
an industry partner — “maybe a pharmaceutical company that will
license the patent from UCLA and then give us the resources that we want to
do our research.”
He’d still prefer to start his own company, he admits, but he’ll
take it as it comes, just so he can keep moving forward.
“There are people who do science because of the enjoyment of discovering
a scientific fact, and that is wonderful,” Parhami says. “But an
additional thing that I expect from my work is to help somebody who is suffering
from a disease. And in order to do that, I need a lot of resources.”
Judy Lin-Eftekhar is a senior writer for UCLA Magazine.