The AURP has issued a new report on the topic called the Power of Place 2.0: The Power of Innovation.54 Among the 10 steps for creating jobs and improving technology commercialization, the AURP recommends supporting research park infrastructure and developing “communities of innovation.”
To improve technology transfer, the AURP also calls for reforming the federal grant and contract funding model of the Office of Management and Budget to encourage commercialization efforts by principal investigators. “If you are a principal investigator, there are a lot of accounting rules about what you can directly charge and what you can’t charge,” he said. “If we are really going to create the most efficient tech-transfer system, the first Valley of Death quite often takes place at the fence level, or with the principal investigators and their sponsors’ programs offices.” That system needs to be tweaked.
The AURP also calls for federal financial support for proof-of-concept work. Mr. Darmody noted that President Obama’s proposed budget calls for such funding. He also supported calls for reviewing U.S. export controls, which often present problems for corporate and university research relationships. “If we can get the right set of export control rules, that will improve the amount of corporate and university research,” he said.
Other recommendations include expanding the corporate R&D tax credit, eliminating IRS tests related to university licensing of intellectual property to corporate research in facilities funded by taxpayer bonds, and to include entre-preneurship programs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) initiatives. Essentially, the term STEM should be expanded into STEEM, in order to include the word “entrepreneurship,” he said. “We need to embed entrepreneur-ship in all of our projects and policies.”
Mr. Darmody concluded by noting that the AURP also is working for passage of federal legislation aimed at promoting science and research parks.
While explaining that he does not have all of the answers to improving university technology transfer, Dr. Stevens, president-elect of the Association of University Technology Management (AUTM), said he could highlight many of the problems with current systems.
54 Brian Darmody, The Power of Place 2.0: The Power of Innovation—10 Steps for Creating Jobs, Improving Technology Commercialization, and Building Communities of Innovation, Tucson: Association of University Research Parks, March 5, 2010, <http://www.matr.net/article-38349.html>.