A series of computer-based assessment tests developed by JMU faculty have been licensed to a start-up company from Washington, D.C., that is now marketing them to colleges and universities around the U.S. and the globe.
Mary Lou Bourne, director of technology transfer at JMU, feels many more ideas being tossed around JMU classrooms and laboratories could make the same transition to marketable products—with the right kind of guidance.
"You can have the greatest technology, but it would never make it to the marketplace if you don't have entrepreneurs who are experienced about how to make it go," said Bourne, who also is executive director of James Madison Innovations, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that licenses intellectual property developed at JMU.
In her dual roles with JMU and JMI, Bourne has resources to vet ideas for marketability as well as access to a network of entrepreneurs who can help bring JMU inventions to market. Bourne works with Innovate TechVentures, LLC out of Herndon to help match commercializable technologies with interested and qualified entrepreneurs looking to start their next business.
JMI's role includes determining if there is a need for an invention, if the invention is worth investing in and what the competition is like. Some keys to marketability are uniqueness and value to others, Bourne said.
JMI also helps with the costly process of securing patents on inventions that have shared ownership with the university, meaning at least $10,000 in university resources have been put into the invention. The cost of applying for a U.S. patent is generally between $15,000 and $20,000, Bourne said.
Inventors and their departments receive the majority of net royalties from licensing. A percentage goes to pay legal fees and patent costs, as well as to a fund to help support research and innovation.
The inventions can come from JMU faculty, staff or students, Bourne said.