University technology transfer stakeholders lack a simple, yet meaningful way to measure how effectively and quickly a university is able to license patents into commercially successful products and to spin off startups that in turn, create jobs. Current leading count-based measures fail to account for the fact that many significant technology transfer outcomes follow a skewed distribution that when summed, provide inadequate insight into a university's ability to quickly place its patent portfolio into productive external use. This article introduces a set of three core index-based measures that overcome the limitations of conventional metrics and econometric models: a commercialization health index, job creation health index, and a licensing-speed health index. The concept underlying the technology transfer health indexes is borrowed from the h index utilized by university tenure committees to measure scholarly impact and productivity over time. The index-based measures described in this article are simple for technology transfer practitioners to apply, can be calculated using existing data, and are immune to skewing by atypical outcomes such a single, high-earning patent, and be difficult to intentionally manipulate. With little cost and no additional infrastructure, index-based measures of university technology transfer activity yield meaningful metrics that could be input into larger, economic impact studies. The index-based measures described here reward universities that have sustained and impactful technology transfer activity over time; widespread application of index-based measures would incent universities to become better stewards of federally funded scientific research.
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