This week's Tech Transfer E-News reports that the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Port Elizabeth (South Africa), has reached an agreement with investment partner Afrepell to commercialize a range of insect repellent products developed by the school's Institute of Chemical Technology, InnoVention. The deal marks a significant milestone for NMMU, being the first commercial agreement which is based on its own researchers' IP, coming about 14 months after it launched a tech transfer office.
The technology relates to a patented insecticide, RepelloX, which is reported to have several advantages over existing products. Afrepell and the university will enter into a joint venture to manufacture, sell and license RepelloX. The company already has agreements with distributors in the UK and the US. Retail products incorporating RepelloX should be available internationally in 2009. For more information click here
The significant thing here is that NMMU have had to keep their tech transfer office staffed and maintained for over a year before seeing any fruits of its labours. In many academic institutions there is a danger that tech transfer and industrial liaison offices have to compete for funding with many other causes -- teaching and residential facilities, infrastructure, marketing of existing programmes and development of new ones. Public funding also can be difficult to secure on a regular basis. NMMU has done well to persist with its tech transfer office; it is hoped that, with a stream of income from RepelloX, it will be able to continue and grow its wealth-generating licensing activities.
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