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Release: Immediate

University of Iowa receives intellectual property valued at $35 million from DuPont

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa announced today that it has received biotechnology patents valued at $35 million from DuPont, the research and technology-based company headquartered in Wilmington, Del. The gift of intellectual property is the first of its kind for the UI and puts Iowa in the forefront of a new trend in technology transfer in which industry donates selected intellectual property to academic institutions.

The patents, which are being donated to the UI Research Foundation, include a new process for producing one of the world's most widely used herbicides but with less waste and environmental impact than traditional manufacturing techniques. Another process produces a nutritional chemical that can be used as a food additive. The third process produces chemical intermediates that are important in making other products of value to industry.

Before the UI is able to achieve a monetary return on the patents, additional work will be required to make them commercially viable. That work will include more research and development as well as marketing efforts to secure corporate partners willing to pay for the commercial use of the patents. However, the patents were given to the UI because its Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing was deemed by DuPont to have the expertise to carry out the additional work.

The announcement of the UI gift came as DuPont also announced gifts of patents to two other universities. Virginia Polytechnic Institute received patents worth $23 million, and Pennsylvania State University received patents valued at $6 million. An independent accounting firm determined the value of the patents.

In each case, the technology discovered and initially developed by DuPont was determined important, but did not fit strategically into the company's long term business plans. "DuPont researchers routinely make significant leaps in science and technology. Inevitably, some of their discoveries and inventions are not consistent with our future plans," DuPont Chairman and CEO Charles O. Holliday said in a separate DuPont news release issued today. "We're very pleased to be able to make these contributions. While DuPont has decided not to pursue further development of these technologies, they represent an opportunity for the recipients to continue development and ultimately realize their full value."

"All three donations require additional research and development by the universities before they become commercially viable," said Randolph Guschl, Ph.D., director of DuPont Corporate Technology Transfer. "Each of these universities is recognized worldwide for their research in the fields of technology we've donated. We're confident that the universities have both the interest and the ability to carry the technology forward."

"The University of Iowa is extremely pleased to receive this distinctive gift and to be among the first universities to be involved in this new type of relationship with one of the world's best research and development companies," said UI President Mary Sue Coleman. "We thank DuPont for its generosity.

"This wonderful relationship with DuPont is the result of two kinds of strategic planning," Coleman added. "First, it grows out of the University's emphasis on interdisciplinary research. The Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing clearly exemplifies the best in interdisciplinary cooperation. With 43 faculty members from seven departments, it is the nation's first and the strongest cluster of faculty scientists in this field of research.

"Second, but just as important, I want to acknowledge the foresight of our state government leaders. Beginning in 1990, they recognized the importance of biotechnology by investing $1 million a year in the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing. This gift demonstrates convincingly that the state's investment is paying off."

Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack also thanked DuPont for the gift. "On behalf of the citizens of Iowa, I join President Coleman in extending a sincere thanks to DuPont for this gift. We are honored and excited that DuPont has recognized the University of Iowa is the best place to carry on with this work. It is a gift, a challenge, and a tremendous opportunity.

"Also on behalf of all Iowans, I offer congratulations to the University's Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing," Vilsack added.

John Rosazza, UI professor of pharmacy and director of the CBB, said that further development of the intellectual property donated by DuPont would begin with a symposium involving scientists and others from the CBB faculty and DuPont.

"This gift represents the finest example of technology transfer at work, and we accept it as a gesture of respect for the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing," Rosazza said. "Just as DuPont would have to work diligently to make these patents work, so will we. We are tremendously excited by the challenge and opportunity that lie before us."