In Business Creation at Universities, UCLA Tops the List

Ronald D. White reported in today’s Los Angeles Times that, “Since joining UCLA’s faculty in 1988, urology researcher Arie Belldegrun has developed a specialty: starting companies with the university’s help.

“Belldegrun’s track record includes selling his first company, the Santa Monica cancer therapy biotech Agensys Inc., for more than $500 million. In 2009, Belldegrun’s Cougar Biotechnology was sold to Johnson & Johnson, for $1 billion. He’s still running the cancer cell therapy firm, Kite Pharma, which recently ranked seventh in the MIT Technology Review’s 2017 list of the 50 smartest companies.

“Belldegrun, 67, thinks most universities would have forced him to choose between being a full-time professor or an entrepreneur.”

Mr. White explained that, “UCLA isn’t just good at generating new businesses; the Westwood school has become better at it than any of the other 224 universities reviewed in a recent Milken Institute report.

UCLA finished ahead of prominent challengers, including Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Caltech, when it comes to start-up creation, according to the study, titled ‘Concept to Commercialization: The Best Universities for Technology Transfer.’

“Supporting entrepreneurship began a decade ago with UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block, himself an inventor, said Ross DeVol, the Milken Institute report’s principal author. The school ranked 15th overall in the latest Milken list, up from 45th in 2006, using scores from four categories: start-ups formed, patents issued, licenses issued and licensing income.”

The LA Times article added that, “Getting faculty members to pursue entrepreneurship involved loosening the old ‘publish or perish’ emphasis on professorial tenure tracks still prevalent on many campuses.”

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