Chapter 4
Possible Future Tasks

Participants discussed a number of suggestions for follow-up, a selection of which is briefly discussed below. The project scope did not allow a comprehensive examination of all relevant issues and alternatives. It is hoped that the ideas raised at the workshop will be useful to other groups examining this complex and rapidly changing field, such as the Business-Higher Education Forum, Association of American Universities, Association of University Technology Managers, Council on Competitiveness, and the Industrial Research Institute.

  • Rethinking of the Bayh-Dole framework. Perspectives were divided on this issue. Although technically the Bayh-Dole Act is relevant to university-industry collaboration when a university invention has been developed using federal funds, the legislation has fundamentally changed how many universities and companies approach collaboration. Many participants believe that the Bayh-Dole Act has facilitated a great deal of valuable collaboration between industry and academia, and it would not be possible or desirable to go back. In this view, barriers are best overcome through dissemination of best practices and through initiatives in the research community to deal with common stumbling blocks. Several other participants were skeptical that Bayh-Dole has been that beneficial, and believe that some basic rethinking is justified.

  • Development of "accepted standards" for university and industry technology transfer professionals. Some participants believe that a common source of barriers to collaboration is inexperience of the technology transfer staff members in universities and industry. Although the level of expertise has risen in this relatively new profession, some suggested a focused effort on the part of the Association of University Technology Managers, along with academic and industry associations, to develop professional standards in such areas as training and credentialing.



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OCR for page 14
Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop Chapter 4 Possible Future Tasks Participants discussed a number of suggestions for follow-up, a selection of which is briefly discussed below. The project scope did not allow a comprehensive examination of all relevant issues and alternatives. It is hoped that the ideas raised at the workshop will be useful to other groups examining this complex and rapidly changing field, such as the Business-Higher Education Forum, Association of American Universities, Association of University Technology Managers, Council on Competitiveness, and the Industrial Research Institute. Rethinking of the Bayh-Dole framework. Perspectives were divided on this issue. Although technically the Bayh-Dole Act is relevant to university-industry collaboration when a university invention has been developed using federal funds, the legislation has fundamentally changed how many universities and companies approach collaboration. Many participants believe that the Bayh-Dole Act has facilitated a great deal of valuable collaboration between industry and academia, and it would not be possible or desirable to go back. In this view, barriers are best overcome through dissemination of best practices and through initiatives in the research community to deal with common stumbling blocks. Several other participants were skeptical that Bayh-Dole has been that beneficial, and believe that some basic rethinking is justified. Development of "accepted standards" for university and industry technology transfer professionals. Some participants believe that a common source of barriers to collaboration is inexperience of the technology transfer staff members in universities and industry. Although the level of expertise has risen in this relatively new profession, some suggested a focused effort on the part of the Association of University Technology Managers, along with academic and industry associations, to develop professional standards in such areas as training and credentialing.

OCR for page 14
Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop Develop a statement on acceptable indirect cost policies in university-industry research. Several participants said that it would be useful for a respected group to further study and perhaps develop a statement on appropriate policies for waiving or modifying indirect costs on industry-supported research. The federal government's role may need to be addressed in such an activity. Develop a statement on the responsibilities of industrial partners in research collaboration. One participant asserted that a statement on the responsibilities of industrial partners would be helpful to universities and industry. Workshop participants related several instances of industrial partners pulling out of collaborative arrangements abruptly or hiring students away in the midst of their degree programs. Further study and a statement on commonly accepted responsibilities could help partners avoid these situations. Further study of university and industry effective practices in research collaboration. In light of the different approaches that universities and companies are taking, one participant suggested that a continuing effort to evaluate the effectiveness of these approaches would be useful. For example, some universities are delegating technology transfer activities to non-profit or for-profit subsidiaries. Likewise, some companies are seeking to work with universities on projects with a shorter time horizon than has traditionally been the case. How can such cooperation be managed effectively? Such an examination might also take up the matter of whether universities should consider not patenting in certain fields.