The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology convened this week for an in-depth discussion on how universities can start turning federally funded research projects into private-sector innovation. Legislators were joined by delegates from the Association of University Technology Managers, several state colleges and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation.
In its simplest form, technology transfer involves distributing university research findings to commercial entities for the purpose of further development and/or application in mass-produced goods. But with so many stakeholders involved in such processes, it can often take years for promising innovations to transform into profitable goods.
"I am convinced that there are a number of ways that we can strengthen and improve technology transfer in this country," Maryland Representative Donna Edwards stated. "There are far too many good ideas out there in universities - good ideas that have been developed through federal taxpayer support - that languish."
The discussion centered on the Bayh-Dole Act, which established a uniform patent policy that enables universities to retain their claims to inventions generated from federally funded projects. However, Edwards and others went beyond legislative codes to suggest that the focus of technology transfer initiatives may be fundamentally flawed. For example, proof of concept research and entrepreneurial education programs have traditionally been underrepresented in past collaborations.