I wish to offer an answer to the RFI’s third Overarching Question: What specific actions can the Federal Government take to build and sustain U.S. strengths including its entrepreneurial culture, flexible labor markets, world-class research universities, strong regional innovation ecosystems, and large share of global venture capital investment? My answer: Change Section 6.02 of Revenue Procedure 2007-47 (from IRB 2007-29 issued on July 16, 2007) regarding corporate-sponsored research so as to better ensure that such innovative R&D occurs in U.S. universities rather than overseas. This change can serve as a no-cost solution that can have a positive impact on local/regional economies without creating a financial burden on the federal government or on U.S. taxpayers.
I know lots of people are talking about the fiscal cliff. (Heck, I’ve been talking about it myself.) But as we head into this last month before we hit it (or not), my frustration is reaching a pinnacle. So brace yourself for a rant, albeit with a holiday spin. All I want for Christmas is for members of Congress to figure out how to work together and compromise. The sad thing is, this has been a Christmas wish for the past, oh, 15 years. (Santa? Santa, are you there?) Congress has not passed a budget in a timely manner since 1997. In fact, the last budget they passed at all was in April 2009. Worse than…
This summer, the technology transfer office (TTO) at Vanderbilt University conducted an informal survey of members of the AUTM® directors online discussion group on TTO policies and practices regarding returning rights to inventors. I found the results from the 84 respondents intriguing, as should advocates for free agency in tech transfer (including sponsors of the current Startup Act legislation). That’s because this survey showed that the essence of free agency — that is, giving innovators the right to pursue commercialization of their technology — is already in place… and the innovators are not pursuing it. Let’s look at the data.
On May 22nd, Startup Act 2.0 was introduced. This is a revised version of legislation proposed last December that contained questionable provisions to allow university professors to choose their own agents to help transfer their technology rather than be tied to their home university’s technology transfer office (TTO)—the so-called free agency provision. I dug into the new legislation, comparing it to the original wording, to figure out exactly what’s changed (besides the fact that the accelerated commercialization of research provisions are now part of Section 8 rather than 7). Here’s what I figured out.
The urgency is growing surrounding a very important technology transfer issue: the free agency concept. This is the idea put forth by The Kauffman Foundation that university faculty should be able to shop their discoveries to any third party for licensing. A Quick Recap The free agency concept first gained attention in January 2010, when Harvard Business Review called it a breakthrough idea. I blogged at the time that it is, in fact, a naive idea.
There’s been a lot of discussion among universities and others about the inclusion of the “free agency” concept in Section 7 of the Moran–Warner Startup Act. This is the idea proposed by the Kauffman Foundation to allow professors to choose their own agents to help transfer their technology rather than be tied to their home university’s technology transfer office (TTO). This post is not about the merits of the idea. I’m writing this post to point out some key questions that need to be answered for such a plan to be realistically implemented.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recently announced a new program to allow companies to pay $4,000 (rather than the standard ~$1,000) to have the review of a patent application expedited. Currently patents take about 35 months to process to final action (25 months for the first action).
As a consulting firm, we would directly benefit from the idea posited by Robert E. Litan and Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation, published as part of “The HBR List: Breakthrough Ideas in 2010” piece in the January 2010 issue of Harvard Business R …