Martin Maisonpierre, 212-704-811, firstname.lastname@example.org, Edelman
Barb Pruitt, 816-932-1288, email@example.com, Kauffman Foundation
Authors say a free agency for inventors will get innovations to the market faster and create jobs, benefit consumers, researchers and universities
(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Dec. 17, 2009 – Creating an open, competitive licensing system for university innovators is one of Harvard Business Review's "Ten Breakthrough Ideas for 2010" and the brainchild of researchers at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The free agency solution is one of the 10 ideas that HBR says "will make the world better."
Current restrictions imposed by U.S. research universities on the ways their faculty can commercialize federally funded discoveries are slowing the diffusion of new technologies, according to the article by Robert E. Litan and Lesa Mitchell published this week in the January-February 2010 issue of HBR. These limitations are detrimental to the U.S. economy and universities themselves.
"We know that there are many vital innovations and discoveries languishing in university labs because of a suboptimal licensing system at many universities," said Litan, vice president for research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. "One simple amendment to the Bayh-Dole Act would allow faculty members to choose their own licensing agents/experts and bring these discoveries to market quickly. Unleashing this kind of innovation will lead to the creation of new companies and new jobs. "
Most universities channel commercialization through centralized technology licensing offices established in the wake of the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which granted universities the rights to intellectual property stemming from federal research dollars. Over time, according to the authors, too many of these offices have become monopolies that slow the process of commercialization due to the constraints of the current system.
"We have a massive bottleneck of innovation on our campuses. Even though federal funding from the National Institutes of Health has more than doubled over the past 15 years, the number of new drug approvals has fallen from 40 to 50 a year down to 12," said Lesa Mitchell, vice president for innovation at the Kauffman Foundation. "As the federal government dedicates billions of dollars in research funding to clean energy, we cannot let this pattern be repeated."
Mitchell and Litan argue that if faculty members can choose their own licensing agents, the increased competition would speed up the commercialization of new technologies while still allowing universities to collect the same royalties as under the current system.
Both Lesa Mitchell and Robert Litan are available for interviews via satellite or phone. To obtain a print copy of the HBR article, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.