Director, MIT Technology Licensing Office
[From the MIT Technology Review, Feb. 22, 2011] For 25 years, Lita Nelsen has witnessed the spread of MIT ingenuity from a unique vantage point: the Technology Licensing Office (TLO). The TLO helps MIT researchers protect their innovations and license them to existing companies and startups; Akamai and Momenta Pharmaceuticals are two successful public companies that got their start that way. Nelsen joined the office in 1986 and became director in 1993. During her tenure, it has evolved into one of the most active such offices in the world, ushering thousands of innovations into the marketplace. Annual invention disclosures, which researchers send to the TLO describing promising new inventions, have more than quadrupled, to over 500, and licensing agreements have increased tenfold, to more than 90 annually. On average, 20 new companies are started each year.