A Note on Bayh-Dole
There seems to have been some confusion following this about the nature of the breakthrough idea to improve the U.S. model for commercialization of university-developed technologies. In reading summaries of this idea such as mine, many readers have incorrectly assumed implications of the proposed change.
To clarify, Bob Litan and Lesa Mitchell’s essay in HBR does not question the validity or the positive effects of the Bayh–Dole Act, which gave universities the ownership of IP generated by faculty research funded by federal dollars. Rather, the commercialization model proposed by the Kauffman Foundation specifically addresses the need for more channels for commercialization. The idea consists of a very simple market-based principle: faculty who wish to pursue commercialization ought to have a choice as to how their IP is to be commercialized.
This proposal does not entail a replacement of the Bayh-Dole Act. Neither does it suggest the redesign of any royalty splits in faculty-university contracts, nor that commercialization is the only -- or main -- activity of faculty research. The proposal would simply build on the benefits of Bayh-Dole, and is especially timely in a period of slow growth and high unemployment.