It is no surprise that schools like MIT, Harvard, and Yale spend million of dollars each year in research, but what might surprise you is which school has the best return on investment (ROI) around that money.

The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) just published a study that places university research spending against the creation of patents, options, and startups. The study also lists the overall ROI from it’s research spending for the year of 2009. These universities are able generate revenue by commercializing their research and products and selling them to businesses. Universities will usually collect licensing fees or royalties, but can also take partial stake in a certain company or product.

According to the study, in 2009 about 150 universities created 555 startup companies and resulted in over 4,500 patent optioning and licensing deals — earning them over $1.8 billion in payouts. The most interesting part of the study was looking at each university’s spend and their respective ROIs:

Quick highlights:

  • UMass spent considerably less than Harvard and MIT, but earned more than both
  • MIT created 18 startups and 509 patent applications
  • BU created 4 startups; Tufts yielded none
  • Northwestern earned more money than all Mass. schools combined on the list

Notes:

  • It is clear that not all schools are represented in this study
  • I am unsure what criteria they use to define a startup
  • Would be nice to see the number of patents granted vs. applications
  • All of these schools have very different populations of students and faculty, so it would be interesting to see spending and income on a per student basis

Either way, it was very interesting to see UMass top both MIT and Harvard here in the Hub — so cheers to you Minutemen!

Institution 2009 Research Spending Start-Ups Licenses and Options Executed Patent Applications 2009 Licensing Income
Northwestern U $400,012,497 3 31 168 $161,591,544
Columbia U 604,660,000 13 51 202 154,257,579
New York U 308,834,000 5 38 50 113,110,437
U of California System 4,686,598,210 47 237 928 103,104,667
Wake Forest U 162,084,439 3 8 N.A. 95,636,362
U of Minnesota 590,880,956 3 53 65 95,168,525
U of Washington/Washington Research Fdn. 1,076,044,801 10 231 145 87,339,905
U of Massachusetts 489,060,000 1 50 85 70,553,428
Massachusetts Inst. of Technology 1,375,073,000 18 91 509 66,450,000
Stanford U 733,266,108 9 77 221 65,054,187
U of Wisconsin at Madison 1,132,000,000 1 57 129 56,714,000
U of Florida 496,063,499 10 115 180 53,880,476
California Inst. of Technology 521,436,800 18 37 381 47,665,535
U of Rochester 377,246,000 2 15 63 46,025,270
U of Iowa Research Fdn. 334,936,000 3 21 18 42,922,081
U of Texas System 2,272,779,788 22 161 330 32,428,040
U of Georgia 349,730,000 6 124 71 30,531,425
Mount Sinai School of Medicine of NYU 321,299,455 8 36 25,081,703
Duke U 709,803,045 4 97 155 19,048,244
U of Michigan 1,016,565,913 8 78 153 18,311,368
Case Western Reserve U 332,661,000 5 31 104 16,281,957
Research Foundation of SUNY 849,961,108 5 49 140 16,205,537
Emory U 416,476,261 1 36 53 15,034,198
U of Illinois (Chicago, Urbana-Champaign) 905,365,000 8 49 132 13,364,056
U of Utah 354,653,777 19 79 108 12,422,572
Johns Hopkins U 1,242,316,445 10 99 458 12,387,415
Harvard U 705,074,000 8 65 175 12,308,207
U of Pennsylvania 760,836,000 4 62 517 11,658,000
Vanderbilt U 457,357,428 1 46 64 11,329,700
U of Missouri, all campuses 339,124,184 5 79 48 10,400,726
Texas A&M U System 630,655,000 6 63 63 9,897,559
Tulane U 130,908,211 2 12 9,366,708
Georgetown U 230,637,658 11 50 9,222,996
U of Chicago/UCTech 336,155,979 16 29 9,025,392
Iowa State U 253,323,000 1 82 32 8,832,802
Baylor College of Medicine 305,687,000 56 14 8,809,000
Tufts U 172,866,529 9 20 8,390,154
Rutgers U 236,502,404 5 87 60 8,128,609
Carnegie Mellon U 232,992,000 10 19 49 8,041,047
U of Oregon 110,321,683 1 33 3 7,188,653
Ohio U 41,256,000 1 49 6,875,069
Louisiana State U System 401,306,000 6 17 65 6,349,177
U of Virginia Patent Fdn. 261,604,000 2 57 161 6,347,487
Washington U of St. Louis 567,383,000 2 53 106 6,301,462
Indiana U (ARTI) 422,084,735 6 30 72 5,952,499
Loyola U of Chicago 36,519,094 8 5,772,000
Thomas Jefferson U 94,784,221 18 16 5,531,467
Cornell Research Fdn., Inc. 687,430,951 3 23 129 5,100,407
North Carolina State U 380,600,000 4 91 118 4,930,022
Michigan State U 373,184,000 44 60 4,449,445
U of Colorado 718,000,000 11 62 118 4,430,040
U of Southern California 533,040,769 5 13 120 4,399,006
Purdue Research Fdn. 524,117,000 10 85 137 4,201,112
U of Pittsburgh 653,925,000 3 41 105 4,129,172
U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 666,871,589 1 72 61 3,063,947
Albert Einstein College of Med/Yeshiva U 142,966,051 2 10 8 2,966,838
Clemson U 140,969,423 13 64 2,837,226
Colorado State U 311,720,381 1 22 65 2,776,439
Brigham Young U 27,299,213 9 27 74 2,687,163
U of Alabama Birmingham Research Fdn. 431,732,000 5 29 31 2,668,761
U of South Alabama 32,882,000 1 4 2,553,723
Georgia Inst. of Technology 581,278,634 9 65 239 2,411,613
Oregon State U 209,061,000 4 27 25 2,407,725
U System of Maryland 817,083,316 7 44 145 2,392,959
U of Nebraska 374,822,789 6 32 139 2,273,608
Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. 211,519,580 6 35 86 2,022,510
University of Houston 99,262,000 3 6 17 1,952,557
Arizona State University 254,006,785 5 49 126 1,878,749
Dartmouth College 145,953,505 1 9 26 1,833,707
Boston University/Boston Medical Ctr. 371,652,029 4 23 45 1,776,497
Ohio State U 716,461,278 7 27 61 1,711,719
U of Kentucky Research Fdn. 248,952,000 14 19 37 1,700,000
U of Tennessee 284,211,680 2 16 146 1,609,779
North Dakota State University 113,214,000 96 24 1,539,570
Kansas State University Research Fdn. 105,116,954 6 17 1,509,490
Oregon Health & Science University N.A. 3 57 36 1,492,748
Oklahoma State University 163,066,112 3 14 23 1,469,443
University of Miami 318 4 20 117 1,442,697
Miami University 22,616,538 1 2 1,412,242
University of Kansas 207,115,000 2 14 81 1,406,616