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October 23, 1998

Two of the state-wide issues Oklahomans will decide on November 3 would allow major changes in the way the state conducts technology transfer activities. The purpose of the initiatives is to promote the commercialization of university research and support university innovation.

Under current Oklahoma law, public property can only be used for public purposes. Passage of State Question 680 would make an exception for use of public property for certain projects that involve research and development of a technology. A state college or university would be able to let a business use its property to work on technology projects, especially those linked to the institution.

State Question 681 would allow state colleges and universities, as well as their employees, to own technology and equity in private businesses. The companies would have to make a product or invent a process or other idea using help from the institutions or their employers. No appropriated tax dollars could be used to invest in the business venture.

Both issues are part of a legislative package that was signed into law in May, subject to voter approval. Other provisions that have already taken effect established technology transfer offices at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, and allowed the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) to establish a technology business financing program.