Socializing the Costs and Privatizing the Profits
Optive Research, Inc., launched on July 9, 2003, originally started here at UT. Its president and chief scientific officer is UT pharmacy professor Robert Pearlman, the Coulter R. Sublett Regents endowed chair in pharmacy and director of UT's Laboratory for the Development of Computer-Assisted Drug Discovery Software. The technologies behind Optive's products were researched and developed at UT by Pearlman and others. Optive has since spun off as a private company from the University.
Five of Optive's software developments are licensed to Tripos Inc., whose payments are split between UT and Pearlman after administrative costs are paid to the UT Office of Technology Licensing. This deal has been UT's second biggest commercialized technology moneymaker, bringing in $905,000 in fiscal year 2002. UT is cutting its ties to Tripos as Optive spins off, and Optive will manage the money flow from Tripos to UT from now on. The University has signed a licensing deal with Optive with an undisclosed amount of revenue from both Tripos and Optive flowing to UT. Optive creates software solutions for biotechnology companies and universities. The software is designed for computational chemists and scientists working in "wet-labs" that, coincidentally, UT is currently building on Dean Keeton.
University spin-off companies use the technology and the science, researched at universities and funded by taxpayers and tuition, to develop products for sale on the market. Private corporations can arise from the public spending and work done at universities. The Institute for Constructive Capitalism at UT has articulated and promoted this process through conferences, partnerships and books such as University Spin-off Companies. Technology transfer and licensing is another path to generating corporate profit from university research, as in the case of Tripos among many others.
Optive Research Inc.
Founded: Fall 2002
What it does: Researches, develops and sells software for computer-assisted drug discovery
President and chief scientific officer: Robert Pearlman, pharmacy professor and director of UT's Laboratory for the Development of Computer-Assisted Drug Discovery Software