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General Motors and Yissum sign research collaboration agreement; first research funded focuses on forecasting of car sales

Yissum Research Development Company Ltd., the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has signed a research collaboration framework agreement with General Motors. Under the terms of the agreement, General Motors will fund research projects of interest led by Hebrew University researchers, and in return will be granted a right of first offer for procuring an exclusive license to use any invention or product that will result from the sponsored research.

The first research project which was chosen as part of this research collaboration focuses on forecasting car sales. Buying a car is no small matter, and consumers weigh many factors before deciding. Maximizing sales involves, therefore, an in depth understanding not only of what drives people to buy, but also of what discourages them from buying. However, net sales data can not provide enough information for accurately forecasting the extent of sales, and especially not the proportion of people declining to buy. Such information is invaluable for representing the actual market potential and its fluctuations over time.

Researchers from the Hebrew University will develop accurate mathematical models that will take into account not only sales data, but also data on people who have decided against buying. The research will be led by Prof. Jacob Goldenberg, and Keren Hadad from the School of Business Administration, Marketing Department, at the Hebrew University, and will provide an in depth analysis on the rate of buying as well as on factors contributing to the decision process.

The mathematical models are based on the Bass diffusion model, which was developed by Frank Bass and describes the process of how new products get adopted as an interaction between users and potential users. However, the Hebrew University group has developed a diffusion model that also incorporates potential consumers’ decisions to decline adoption in response to negative forces acting upon them. The model was already tested using data collected from the internet on the adoption of open-source software, and was able to estimate and predict the total number of decliners in the market.

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. was founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Products based on Hebrew University technologies that have been commercialized by Yissum currently generate $1.2 billion in annual sales. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies in the world, Yissum has registered 6,100 patents covering 1,750 inventions; has licensed out 480 technologies and has spun out 65 companies. Yissum’s business partners span the globe and include companies such as Novartis, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Intel, Teva and many more.

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