Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) brings technology created at Stanford to market. In 2012–13, Stanford received more than $87 million in gross royalty revenue from 622 technologies. Forty two of the inventions generated $100,000 or more in royalties. Six inventions generated $1 million or more. In 2012–13, OTL concluded 103 new licenses.
Among the Inventions Licensed by OTL:
Antibody therapies: In the 1980s, Leonard Herzenberg, Vernon Oi and Sherie Morrison invented a technique for producing functional antibodies, enabling treatments for such conditions as autoimmune diseases and cancer.
Digital music: John Chowning developed FM sound synthesis for digitally generating sounds in the late 1960s, leading to the music synthesizer.
Disease management: The Stanford Patient Education Research Center creates programs for chronic health problems, including arthritis and HIV/AIDS, that have been licensed to more than 500 organizations in 17 countries.
Diagnosing infections: John Boothroyd, Lawrence Burg and Philippe Pouletty developed a technique to make copies of RNA and DNA sequences that is used in molecular diagnostic testing for certain infectious diseases.
DSL: In the 1980s, John Cioffi and his students discovered how to use traditional phone lines for high-speed data transmission, resulting in patents used in asymmetric digital subscriber lines.
Glowing mice: David Benaron, Chris Contag and Pamela Contag discovered that bioluminescent genes (like the ones in fireflies) could be harnessed to visualize biological phenomena inside living animals. The technology aids in research and drug discovery.
Google: The world’s most popular search engine got its start at Stanford in 1996 when Sergey Brin and Larry Page developed the page-rank algorithm while computer science graduate students.
Optical fiber amplifier: This invention by John Shaw and Michel J.F. Digonnet enabled the bandwidth explosion in optical communications and telecommunications essential to the Internet.
Recombinant DNA: This ubiquitous tool for molecular biology was developed in 1973 by Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer to enable scientists to perform genetic engineering by combining pieces of DNA from different organisms, laying the groundwork for the biotechnology industry.
Refocus Photography: Ren Ng, Pat Hanrahan, Marc Levoy and Mark Horowitz invented a camera that captures an entire light field with an array of thousands of sensors. Photographers can use this camera to take interactive pictures that can be refocused after the fact.
Wellspring of Innovation
A 2012 study estimated that companies formed by Stanford entrepreneurs generate world revenues of $2.7 trillion annually and have created 5.4 million jobs since the 1930s. Stanford alumni and faculty have created 39,900 companies since the 1930s, which, if gathered collectively into an independent nation, would constitute the world’s 10th largest economy.
Frederick Terman, provost from 1955 to 1965, is called the “academic architect” of the high-technology region known as Silicon Valley.
Among the companies Stanford faculty and alumni have helped create: