Iowa State University’s Research Foundation has reached a milestone. The foundation’s executive director, Lisa Lorenzen, says they’ve just recorded the 4,000th invention by researchers on the Ames campus since they began counting back in 1964.

I.S.U. researchers annually disclose about 100 ideas with possible commercial value. “Out of those 100, about 40 will turn into patent applications,” Lorenzen says. “And of the 40 patent applications, eventually, about a third to half of them will be commercialized by business.”

The 4,000th invention, from a mechanical engineering professor, involves software that compresses 3-D animations so they require less storage space on a computer. Lorenzen says the commercialized ideas eventually bring revenue to Iowa State.

“A good number of the ones that are licensed do end up bringing an income,” Lorenzen says. “”That’s an exciting thing about this 4,000th disclosure – it is a technology that we already have one patent application on. This will probably result in a second patent application and it is a technology that we feel will be commercialized.”

Lorenzen says when inventions are licensed and used by industry, one-third of the net revenue goes to the inventor, one-third goes to the inventor’s home college at the university and one-third is directed to the research foundation.