Technology Transfer Impact? Senator Bayh Informs on IPWatchdog

Patently BIOtech

IPWatchdog published an article by former Senator Birch Bayh highlighting a BIO commissioned study showing the economic impact of technology transfer on the U.S. economy.

 “A new study shows that this spinning of straw into gold is precisely what our academic research organizations have been quietly doing year after year.  The just released report “The Economic Contribution of University/Nonprofit Inventions in the United States: 1996-2010” provides a much needed dose of good economic news when we sorely need it.   It shows that the university/industry R&D partnership created by the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 is essential to our economic growth while protecting public health and well-being.”

“The report analyzed data on patented inventions licensed under Bayh-Dole  between 1996 and 2010.   It found that patents commercialized from university and nonprofit organizations (supported mainly by federal R&D dollars) contributed as much as:

§  $836 billion to the US gross domestic output;

§  $388 billion to the US gross domestic product; and supported

§  3 million “person years of employment.”

The article takes on critics of the Bayh Dole Act and those currently seeking to change the law:

 “Our foreign competitors such as China and India are trying to copy the Bayh-Dole model to better compete with us in the technology race defining the 21st Century.  It’s ironic that with success staring us in the face some insist on poor mouthing university technology transfer, insisting that we veer off onto unproven trails.  We would be foolish to follow such counsel.”

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3 Responses to Technology Transfer Impact? Senator Bayh Informs on IPWatchdog

  1. Lee Henderson says:

    I would agree that university research is translating into technologies, but I believe it is important to realize that a great deal of the licensed technology fails to get commercialized because it is either inaccurate in conception, lacking robustness or not scalable. If the analysis was based on return on investment to bring the technologies to commercialization, it would result in an unflattering conclusion. In the end university research is important, but let’s be realistic and honest in the assessment and not use a political prism which is more often that not “cherry picking” at best.

  2. Joe Allen says:

    What makes the economic impact documented in the rigorous new BIO supported study quoted by Sen. Bayh so remarkable is that federally funded R&D is not focused on finding new products, but on the advancement of fundamental knowledge, or for meeting agency mission needs. Therefore, while its true that most early stage university inventions are not successfully commercialized, what’s truly remarkable is how many of them are; creating not only new products but new companies around the nation.

    As Senator Bayh points out, the beauty of the current system is that it allows universities to push forward the frontiers of knowledge while encouraging industry led partnerships transforming promising discoveries into commercial products. Thus, industry– not government– is picking the winners and losers. If there’s any “cherry picking” going on, it’s by companies selecting which university technologies to commercialize.

    The last thing we want is to shift publicly funded research away from its current focus to try and mimic the private sector to “improve its ROI.” Having the public sector acting like industry would mean that no one would be conducting basic research, which is where the biotech industry originated. The commercial implications of the new science were realized because the private sector understood how it could be applied– and provided the necessary funding and effort to create revolutionary new products and a new industry that we still lead.

    Perhaps the best metric of our success is that our most serious international rivals are adopting Bayh-Dole systems to help overtake our lead in the life sciences. As Senator Bayh stated, we should appreciate a system which serves us so well.

    • Lee Henderson says:

      Joe, I agree with you, but if you look at the evolution of science at academic institutions many are trying to emulate biotech to develop drugs and to spin out companies. Academic institutions need to refocus on advancing basic knowledge which is where the real bang for the buck is.

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