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Licensing and Ventures Has Record Year

All But One of 16 Startup Companies Staying in Durham & Triangle

Duke’s Office of Licensing and Ventures, which licenses ideas from Duke faculty and staff to commercial partners is reporting another record-setting fiscal year in its 2018 annual report.

Duke employees filed a record 329 invention disclosures and started 16 new companies, 15 of which are staying here in Durham and the Triangle. Medical school researchers were granted 69 patents and Pratt Engineering researchers received 32 patents.

“Duke researchers have supplied us with another vigorous year of innovation,” said Robin Rasor, executive director for the Office of Licensing & Ventures.

Duke-spawned companies raised $526 million in funding during the fiscal year. Venture capital investments accounted for 70 percent of that total, led by investments in Precision Biosciences, a Durham-based genome editing company, which raised $110 million in series B funding. Personal Genome Diagnostics, a cancer genome analysis firm jointly owned with Johns Hopkins University, also raised $75 million in a series B.

Humacyte, a Duke spinout making replacement blood vessels from living cells, completed a $150 million equity financing with Fresenius Medical Care, a dialysis company. Fresenius now owns 19 percent of Humacyte, which is now valued at more than $750 million.

Element Genomics, a Durham gene regulation and bioinformatics startup founded by four Duke faculty in 2015, was acquired by a Belgian pharmaceuticals company for $30 million in upfront and milestone payments.

Duke innovations were also licensed to outside interests. OLV negotiated  114 agreements, 25 of which are exclusive agreements. Licensing brought Duke $51 million in revenue during the fiscal year.

Two new OLV programs to enhance commercialization have also celebrated their first anniversaries, Rasor added. The Mentors-in-Residence program pairs experienced entrepreneurs with Duke inventors to guide them toward commercialization, and the New Venture Fellows assists in the formation of start-up companies based on Duke intellectual property.

“It’s exciting to see, after two years at Duke, that Robin Rasor has injected OLV with a tremendous sense of energy and mission,” said Lawrence Carin, the vice provost for research. “There’s a general sense of optimism across campus toward commercialization.”

“OLV will continue to expand its services to improve our innovators’ chances of success in all tech commercialization arenas,” Rasor said.