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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Oct. 20, 2006

Royalties, licensing fees support research and faculty

by Mike Krapfl, News Service

Some of the money generated by Iowa State University research discoveries is being returned to the university to recruit and retain faculty, equip labs and support research programs.

The Iowa State University Research Foundation Inc. provided $750,000 to Iowa State's Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The research foundation will provide another $1.25 million to the office this fiscal year.

"I think this is one of the best things we can do with our money," said Kenneth Kirkland, executive director of the research foundation.

The foundation gets some of its money through fees and royalties paid to license technologies invented at Iowa State. The research foundation, which receives no financial support from the university or the state, also earns revenues from its $23 million endowment.

The research foundation has been sharing some of that revenue with Iowa State's research office since 1999, when the foundation's board agreed to a grant of $500,000. The annual grant jumped to $750,000 in 2002. That adds up to a total of $5.25 million in grants to date.

"This means a great deal to our office," said John Brighton, vice president for research and economic development.

For one thing, Brighton said, the money helps Iowa State put together competitive start-up packages for new faculty. He also said it helps the university keep established faculty who are being recruited by other universities.

How it was spent

A report recently prepared by Brighton's office said last year's grant provided $264,000 that helped recruit four faculty members to Iowa State; $240,000 that helped pay for a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer and high-performance computer clusters; $105,000 that helped provide cost-share money, seed grants and other help to research programs; and $98,000 that helped retain four faculty members. (The remaining $43,000 in the grant was rolled into the FY07 budget.)

The retention packages went to faculty members who had attracted more than $41 million in external research funding to Iowa State, according to the report.

Kirkland said that's another good reason for the research foundation to make grants to Iowa State's research program.

"We want to keep people like that," he said. "They do world-class research and they bring in all that grant money as well."

One result of that research could be more inventions for the university to license. That could lead to more licensing revenues to be shared with the inventors and the university and possibly to more research foundation grants.

"The more money we can get in," Kirkland said, "the more we can share."


"I think this is one of the best things we can do with our money."

Kenneth Kirkland, executive director of the Iowa State University Research Foundation Inc.