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AAU, APLU Taskforces Craft Recommendations for University Tech Transfer Principles

April 09, 2015

Working groups at The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and The Association of American Universities (AAU), two membership organizations of higher education institutions, have released statements on the role of universities in managing intellectual property and technology transfer alongside their core missions and interest in maximizing public benefit. The two sets of recommendations differ slightly, yet both groups emphasize the importance of clearly defining and communicating the principles that guide their work and ensuring that discoveries made on their campuses can be developed for the benefit of the consumer.

The 1980 passage of the Bayh-Dole Act not only created a standardized patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research and development projects, but it also sparked technology transfer efforts across the United States by developing incentives for universities to secure patent protection and commercialization for inventions resulting from federally funded research. While the policy has had numerous successes, many detractors suggest that universities are more concerned with the monetization of IP rather than societal benefit. The recommendations released by the working groups seek to address these concerns.

The APLU Task Force on Managing University Intellectual Property, led by University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi and Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, Senior Vice President for Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University, released a series of recommendations on institutionalizing the purposes of university innovation, technology transfer, commercialization, and entrepreneurship. Later this year the APLU taskforce will release recommendations about policies and practices, providing case study examples on a variety of university IP management approaches.  The task force recommends that university leaders should:

  • Create clear university IP policy that articulates the university’s responsibility to support efficient processes and encourage the widest distribution of university-generated technology for the public good;
  • Review, align, and support university IP management policies and practices with the principles set forth in, In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology, a white paper released by several top research universities alongside the Association of American Medical Colleges in 2007;
  • Work to identify, implement, and emulate best practices in managing university IP, and more broadly in engaging with entrepreneurs and industry; and,
  • Develop a series of metrics that capture and reflect the entirety of the university’s IP management mission in assessing their intellectual property practice – including a set of non-revenue indicators that ensure public benefit is prioritized.

In a similar manner, The AAU Working Group on Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property, led by presidents Robert Brown of Boston University and Eric Kaler of the University of Minnesota, makes recommendations on steps universities can take to implement technology transfer policies and practices that serve the public interest and align with the core missions of their institutions. Later this year, the AAU working group will identify measures and methodologies for evaluating technology transfer activities beyond revenue generation. This working group recommends that universities should:

  • Develop and communicate a clear mission and vision for university intellectual property management, in accordance to recommendations made in Managing University Intellectual Property in the Public Interest, a 2010 report released by a National Research Council (NRC) committee chaired by Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor Mark Wrighton;
  • Emphasize the importance of technology transfer practices that adhere to the university’s commitment to serving the public interest, as guided by principles outlined in the Nine Points document;
  • Create or reinforce institutional policies that restrict the university from working with patent tolls or other firms that acquire IP rights without the intentions of commercializing research ,instead relying solely on threats of infringement litigation for revenue;
  • Align the procedures and criteria for evaluating a university’s technology transfer units with the research university’s core missions of discovery, learning, and promoting social wellbeing.

Read the press release from APLU here…



tech transfer, higher ed