Honors Gallery

Strategic Licensing of the LandScan/LandCast Population Datasets

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2018

Award Type: National

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

The LandScan Global Population Datasets have been actively and successfully licensed for 15 years, demonstrating a sustained technology transfer success story due to the continued need across all user communities – Federal, Research, and Public.

The annually released datasets have become the industry standard for population distribution. LandCast is a relatively new dataset duo that projects future population distributions for the years 2030 and 2050.

The first LandScan dataset was commercially licensed in 2003. At that time, the ORNL Technology Transfer Office negotiated individual licenses with end-users, executing an average of 11 licenses per year during FY2004 thru FY2007. To meet growing market demand, ORNL selected two (2) distributors and issued non-exclusive, term-limited distribution licenses in 2008 for LandScan, with the goal of selecting a future exclusive partner based on performance. Licensing increased to an average of 34 licenses per year during FY2008 thru FY2010.

By 2010, East View was clearly the most successful of the distributors and was ultimately selected for a term-limited exclusive distribution license based on agreed upon commercial milestones.

ORNL received more in LandScan royalties during the first three (3) years of exclusive licensing than from the previous eight years of licensing combined. Licensing increased to an average of 173 licenses per year during FY2011 thru FY2017.

Although the exclusive license was successful, the research team noticed that academic use was not growing as rapidly as the commercial licenses due to the exclusive licensing strategy. At the end of the exclusive distribution license term in 2017, ORNL developed a new strategy to increase academic adoption while still maintaining robust commercial sales. A new online distribution system was created for fast, easy access to the datasets by individual academic researchers. Marketing of this licensing model was also conducted. Also included in the strategy was a call for semi-exclusive distribution licenses, meaning that ORNL would limit the number of distribution licenses it would issue. East View was again selected as a semi-exclusive distributor and negotiations are ongoing with a second distributor operating in a space not addressed by East View.

Regarding commercial licensing, more than 1400 commercial end-user licenses have been executed by ORNL and its partners. Regarding the recent academic adoption strategy, since January 2018, ORNL has received 475 requests in total from 363 different organizations in 60 countries. The LandScan dataset has been formally cited over 150 times in academic and research publications. This is an important achievement because citing datasets is still not widely practiced. LandScan has been one of the ORNL’s most successful technology transfers.