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Rice research gets high marks

Rice University has leapt to the forefront of American research universities for the impact on industry of its accumulated patents, according to a company that analyzes intellectual property.

The Patent Board, a Chicago firm that ranks companies for the prowess of their properties, raised Rice to No. 1 in the "Industry Impact" category on its first public ranking of research universities.

"The results of this Patent Scorecard are very gratifying, and confirm the impression I developed over my first year regarding the work of Rice faculty," said Vice Provost for Research Jim Coleman. "My sense has been that Rice researchers are working at the cutting edge of their fields, and that their discoveries are having a large impact on technological innovation. The Patent Board's analysis confirms that impression."

To judge Rice's impact, the company gathered and analyzed references to universities and their patents in data from government and industry sources, said Christine Wren, spokeswoman for the Patent Board. The category "quantifies how influential a company's patent portfolio is on the development of technologies in other companies, compared to the rest of the industry," according to the firm's Web site.

Nanotechnology patents springing from Rice gained the most attention. The scorecard noted that while Rice has "the lowest volume of patents, they are influential, which is not surprising considering the majority is nanotechnology related." It specifically cited research into optically activated nanoshells being used in human cancer trials by Houston's NanoSpectra Biosciences Inc., a company founded on Rice technology.

"Rice has only been doing the patent game really seriously for the last decade," said Wade Adams, director of Rice University's Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, "and this is a real testimony to the inventiveness of the nanotechnology faculty and students here at Rice, as well as the aggressiveness of the university in the tech transfer office in getting the patents issued and doing it in a way that they're rated the most powerful of all the portfolios. That's a fantastic achievement."

The Patent Board has been performing such rankings for years, but decided to go public with the list for the first time this year, said Wren. The Patent Scorecard for Universities, which tracks 122 institutions, will now be published every September. She also noted the company has been supplying data to the National Science Foundation since 1972.


Contact: David Ruth
Rice University

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