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Managing University Intellectual Property in the Public Interest
PRINCIPAL FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
THE UNIVERSITY AND THE TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY
Finding 1: The first goal of university technology transfer involving IP is the expeditious and wide dissemination of university-generated technology for the public good. The public good might include inputs into further research; new products and processes addressing societal needs; and generation of employment opportunities for the production, distribution, and use of new products. Although the transfer methods will vary from institution to institution depending on the history, location, and composition of the institution’s research portfolio, the goal of expeditious and wide dissemination of discoveries and inventions places IP-based technology transfer squarely within the research university’s core missions of discovery, learning, and the promotion of social well-being.
Finding 2: The transition of knowledge into practice takes place through a variety of mechanisms, including but not limited to
movement of highly skilled students (with technical and business skills) from training to private and public employment;
publication of research results in the open academic literature that is read by scientists, engineers, and researchers in all sectors;
personal interaction between creators and users of new knowledge (e.g., through professional meetings, conferences, seminars, industrial liaison programs, and other venues);
firm sponsored (contract) research projects involving firm-institution agreements;
multi firm arrangements such as university-industry cooperative research centers;
personal individual faculty and student consulting arrangements with individual private firms;
entrepreneurial activity of faculty and students occurring outside the university without involving university-owned IP; and
licensing of IP to established firms or to new start-up companies.
All eight mechanisms, often operating in a complementary fashion, offer significant contributions to the economy. The licensing of IP, although not the most important of these mechanisms, is more often discussed, measured, quantified, and debated than all other mechanisms combined and is the subject of our findings and recommendations.