Under the Bayh-Dole Act, universities (and government laboratories) are encouraged to commercialize their research results. Meteorology departments are increasingly taking advantage of opportunities for science and technology transfer by creating independent for-profit companies. Most have guidelines in place for creating a bright line between the department and the spin-off company and for avoiding conflicts of interest. Others can learn from the best practices of industries that have gone down this path in the past, such as the computer and biotechnology industries. Not only must appropriate practices be followed, but they must be perceived by the outside community as being followed.
Recommendation 11. Universities seeking to commercialize weather-related research results should follow transparent procedures for transferring technology and for avoiding conflicts of interest. These procedures should be given wide exposure to remove perceptions of unfair competition.
Each sector in the weather enterprise has different motivations and rewards for working together. The key benefits of widespread cooperation are increased efficiency and the availability of more and better weather and climate products. Partnerships are most likely to succeed when the sectors maintain an ongoing dialogue, and when they have a mutual respect for and understanding of each partner’s skills, cultural approach, and organization framework. A key element of the latter is public attribution of the contributions (i.e., data and models) of the other sectors. The committee notes that none of the sectors consistently recognizes and gives attribution to the contributions of the other sectors. Such attribution is also important for gaining public support for the large investments required in the weather and climate information system.