Katharine Ku spent 37 in the Office of Technology Licensing in Stanford University, 27 as executive director. She facilitated and witnessed Stanford research transform into some of the most important technologies in use today, including DNA cloning, public key encryption and PageRank, the algorithm that drives Google web searches.
Ku is an internationally recognised leader in the field of technology transfer, having spearheaded the development and implementation of a set of nine principles for university technology licensing. Since 2007, more than 120 institutions have signed on to the document, “In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology.”
At Stanford, she oversaw a dramatic expansion of the office of technology transfer (OTL), more than doubling its staff and income. During her tenure, OTL licensed hundreds of new technologies generating $1.8 billion, much of which was reinvested to fund new research. She formalised Stanford’s licensing process, including clarifying policies on conflicts of interest, equity-based compensation and Stanford’s role in creating startups to further develop researchers’ inventions. In 2001, the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) awarded her the Bayh-Dole Award for her work advancing technology transfer.
While financially very successful, OTL under Ku had a broader philosophy and mission. She is quoted as suggesting, “It’s not about the money, but serving Stanford and the public good”.
Katherine Ku retired from Stanford in 2018 but she continues to support University technology transfer as Chief Licensing Advisor at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, California.