COLLEGE LABS GO CORPORATE
By - Sally Solo

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Take one part corporate funding, mix it with several parts university research, and add a chunk of luck. You get a company with leading-edge technology and a school with a royalty-earning product to show for its work. Example: Cleveland industrial-parts maker Parker Hannifin gave about $50,000 in cash to a Case Western Reserve University research lab in July 1989. Now two professors and two students have produced a prototype robot that is able to move light objects in two-tenths of a second, more than twice as fast as a human can, and five times faster than any existing robot. The robot is expected to make an assembly-line debut in 1993 and to start making money. Last year Case earned $672,000 from royalties on previous inventions. Other companies with college research tie-ins include Monsanto. It is investing $100 million over 12 years with St. Louis neighbor Washington University. The money goes to the medical school to ''shorten markedly the time between fundamental discoveries and the development of preventive and therapeutic products.'' Patents or pending patents to date: more than 40, though they have yet to earn royalties. But patents from other research at Washington U. brought in $500,000 last year. ''Business'' was once a dirty word in academe, but today salesmanship is part of the curriculum. Says Gary Matkin, associate dean at the University of California at Berkeley: ''University patent offices have become marketing operations for university technologies.''