UPenn executed 643 commercial agreements in the 2019-20 fiscal year and scored a big exit with the $248m listing of Passage Bio.

Penn Center for Innovation (PCI), the tech transfer office of University of Pennsylvania, has reported that its spinout portfolio attracted $590m in funding across the 2019-2020 financial year, up from $260m in 2018-2019.

PCI generated $31.3m in licensing and commercialisation revenue, down from $114m year-on-year, and executed 643 commercial agreements, compared with 722 last year.

The TTO secured 84 US patents and filed 705 applications, against 97 and 722 for 2018-19. It currently holds stakes in 14 spinouts, the same number as last year.

Highlights for UPenn included the $248m public listing of its genetic medicine developer Passage Bio in March 2020, and the spinout has since licensed five additional programmes from the university.

Elsewhere, UPenn-founded genomic heart disease medicine developer Verve Therapeutics secured $63m of series A2 funding in June 2020 from a consortium led by GV, a corporate venturing arm of internet and technology group Alphabet.

John Swartley, associate vice-provost for research at UPenn and managing director of PCI, said the results were impressive particularly given coronavirus-driven disruption that arose in the second half of the fiscal year.

He also said “at least” two covid-19 vaccine candidates based partly on UPenn’s research were proceeding through latter-phase clinical trials.

Swartley added: “I am extremely proud of the world-class staff at PCI and the impact of their sustained efforts to support Penn’s robust community of researchers and innovators.

“The team at PCI has shown remarkable fortitude, perseverance and resilience throughout the course of the current pandemic, and their dedication and professionalism are a testament to their commitment to serving the Penn community.”