In recent months, state and federal policy makers have launched a broad set of innovative programs aimed at accelerating technology transfer, the commercialization of government- and university-created intellectual property, or IP, through licenses and business startups. This fall, for example, the Obama administration directed federal agencies and labs to measure and expand their technology transfer efforts. At the state level, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D-MD) Maryland Innovation Initiative, announced in January, would provide seed funding and foster greater cross-university collaboration to help close the state’s gap between its research levels and commercialization results.
Some universities, too, are rethinking their policies. Penn State, for example, announced in December that the university is no longer required to own intellectual property created by industry-sponsored research. “In short we consider the net present value of the interactions and relationships that our faculty and students have with industrial professionals to be real and therefore greater than the apparent future value of the proceeds from such IP,” wrote Hank Foley, Penn State’s vice president for research, in announcing this news. “Our goal … is to flatten any and all barriers or impediments to innovation and that includes our own past stance on intellectual property.”