OSU Concludes First Equity-Sharing Venture


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has liquidated its interest in Clear Shape Technologies, generating about $100,000 in license income for the university and bringing to a successful conclusion the university’s first experience in holding an equity position in a private company.

A constitutional provision referred by the legislature and passed by voters in 2002 allows public universities to hold equity in start-up companies, and Clear Shape was OSU’s first venture of that type.

This Silicon Valley technology company, founded in 2003, develops software used by companies that design or manufacture semiconductor chips, and it used algorithms developed by OSU engineers to provide additional accuracy and speed in the software. In return for licensing rights to this technology, OSU was given stock warrants in the company, which were held by the OSU Foundation.

The share value of Clear Shape Technologies rose significantly in recent years, and in August the company was acquired by Cadence Design Systems, Inc. The OSU holdings in the company were liquidated at that time.

OSU researchers, in its College of Engineering and elsewhere, are increasingly working with private industry to help develop new products, build new companies, create jobs and bring the benefits of the university’s $206 million annual research program to the commercial marketplace. Much university research is supported by private industry, and equity sharing programs such as this are one mechanism to help move commercial ventures forward.

“This is a modest, but very successful start to what we hope will be many ventures of this type over the years,” said Brian Wall, interim director of the Office of Technology Transfer at OSU. “It’s important to demonstrate that the concept worked, that it was beneficial to the university, and that it helped bring good new technologies to commercial use.

“It’s a great example of how the state’s research universities can form working partnerships with private enterprise for everyone’s benefit,” Wall said. “That’s just what the legislature wanted to encourage.”

Technology transfer initiatives at OSU in 2006-07 brought in $2.5 million, a record total. Other recent successful ventures in this area include increased sales of a novel wood adhesive, growing use of specialty varieties of wheat and potatoes, success of an innovative mass spectrometer and development of a mold yeast inhibitor.