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Sources of Medical Technology: Universities and Industry
the emergence of the biotechnology industry. The recent science policy statement, Science in the National Interest, reaffirms the federal investment in science, "… both to sustain America's preeminence in science and to facilitate the role of science in the broader national interest" (OSTP, 1994). Technological innovations both to improve and preserve health and to assure economic prosperity are strong and continuing rationales for investments in R&D.
In recent years, the rapid proliferation of collaborations in biological research involving partnerships between universities, industry, and government have greatly extended the frequency, scope, and visibility of such activities. The desire to draw commercial potential out of government-supported science has led to legislative and executive initiatives to promote more frequent and more directed technology transfer collaborations between the sectors. In many instances, as mentioned, it is still too soon to know how effective the different initiatives will be in fostering technology transfer. Continued monitoring and evaluation to assess what works should guide future policy development.
The amounts of dollars contributed for funding of science by the different sectors have changed over the past decade. While at one time government was the major investor in science, today industry supports over 50 percent of health R&D. It seems likely that the federal government will continue to support biomedical R&D handsomely, though perhaps not the continued expansion of the American university system. Consequently, if there is to be future growth of academic research it will depend increasingly on industrial support. Future policies will need to create an environment favorable to such private sector support. As we have noted, federal policies such as those governing intellectual property rights or tax credits for investments in R&D affect the level of support for R&D and the relationships of the different sectors. Furthermore, as U.S. scientists in academia seek more money from industrial sources, such collaborations will raise questions about potential conflicts of interest and about the roles of universities in education and in economic prosperity. Efforts to regulate collaboration between the sectors should seek to eliminate these ambiguities without unnecessarily burdening university-industry agreements.
American Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAAMI). 1994a. National center facilitates technology transfer. In: Medical Device Research Report 1(1):11. Arlington, Va.: AAAMI.
AAAMI. 1994b. NIST Advanced Technology Program seeks proposals. In: Medical Device Research Report 1(2):6. Arlington, Va.: AAAMI.
AAAMI. 1994c. SBIR, STTR funding opportunities at NIH. In: Medical Device Research Report 1(1):3–5. Arlington, Va.: AAAMI.
AAAMI. 1994d. Technologies available. In: Medical Device Research Report 1(2):13. Arlington, Va.: AAAMI.
AAAMI. 1994e. Technology Reinvestment Project aims to develop 'dual-use' technologies.