Ten Breakthrough Ideas for 2010
Creating an open, competitive licensingsystem for university innovators (scroll to the bottom of the page for the headline, then click on to the next page for the description) is one of HarvardBusiness Review’s “Ten Breakthrough Ideas for 2010.” This solution -- A Faster Path from Lab to Market -- wasdeveloped by researchers at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Current restrictions imposed by U.S.research universities on the ways their faculty can commercialize federallyfunded discoveries are slowing the diffusion of new technologies, according tothe article by Robert E. Litan and Lesa Mitchell published this week in theJanuary-February 2010 issue of HBR.Most universities channel commercialization through centralized technologylicensing offices established in the wake of the passage of the Bayh-Dole Actof 1980, which granted universities the rights to intellectual propertystemming from federal research dollars. Over time, according to the authors,too many of these offices have become monopolies that slow the process ofcommercialization due to the constraints of the current system.
“We know that there are many vitalinnovations and discoveries languishing in university labs because of asuboptimal licensing system at many universities,” said Litan, vice presidentfor research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “One simple amendment tothe Bayh-Dole Act would allow faculty members to choose their own licensingagents/experts and bring these discoveries to market quickly. Unleashing thiskind of innovation will lead to the creation of new companies and new jobs. ”
Mitchell and Litan argue that if facultymembers can choose their own licensing agents, the increased competition wouldspeed up the commercialization of new technologies while still allowinguniversities to collect the same royalties as under the current system. Thefree agency solution is one of the 10 ideas that HBR says “will make the world better.”