Licensing Powerhouse

Agriculture and life sciences play a central role in Iowa State University’s reputation for moving research discoveries into the marketplace.

In 2007, a national report on technology transfer called Iowa State a “licensing powerhouse” and a model of economic development activity. A key reason: ISU’s long-established service to agriculture and other industries through extension, outreach and research partnerships that resulted in personal, trusted relationships.

Those diverse relationships pay off.  The ISU Research Foundation maintains a portfolio of 482 active license and option agreement —two-thirds are plant germplasm and most are products of soybean breeding. In fiscal year 2010, the top licensed technologies for discoveries in agriculture and life sciences included:

  • A sweet, disease-resistant watermelon variety
  • A natural pre-emergence weed control for lawns and gardens
  • A method to increase and maintain muscle mass in humans
  • A precise fertilizer application system, the Impellicone, that reduces anhydrous ammonia used on crops
  • Genes and genetic markers for improved reproductive traits in animals

In fiscal year 2010, agriculture and life sciences faculty were issued six patents and filed five others, for technologies
that included:

  • A genetic test to identify dwarfism in cattle
  • Alternatives to antibiotics in animals
  • Genes to protect soybeans from disease caused by Phytophthora
  • Genetic traits to improve pork tenderness
  • Mobile RNA signals to enhance plant growth and development

Since 2003, 42 percent of all Iowa State University patents (81) have been issued for discoveries in biotechnology, life sciences and agriculture.