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President Signs Patent Reform Law

Today, September 16, 2011, President Obama signed the America Invents Act, the first major revision of the patent system in almost 60 years.  The legislation had strong support from many higher education groups since it should enable universities to more easily and more competitively transfer research innovations into the commercial sector (see blog post of 9-9-11). 

At today’s signing, the President also announced efforts to help research institutions and universities monetize their inventions.  These initiatives include:

  • University Presidents Commit to Commercialization Initiative: In coordination with the Administration, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, 135 university leaders committed to working more closely with industry, investors, and agencies to bolster entrepreneurship, encourage university-industry collaboration, and enhance economic development.  Today, over 40 universities are expanding their commercialization programs and goals.  These institutions include the Georgia Institute of Technology, which has outlined its expanded initiatives, as well as universities like the University of Virginia and Carnegie Mellon University, which are announcing plans today.
  • Coulter Foundation and NSF Launch a University Commercialization Prize with AAAS:  This prize competition will be used to identify and promote incentives to adopt best practices that improve university commercialization efforts.  Supported by $400,000 in funding from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation and NSF, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will lead the design and implementation of the prize in coordination with a diverse array of partner agencies, foundations, and organizations.
  • Developing University Endowments Focused on Lab to Market Innovations: Today, the Coulter Foundation is announcing that they have selected four new universities to participate in their Translational Research Partnership program -- Johns Hopkins University, University of Louisville, University of Missouri and University of Pittsburgh.  As part of the program, each university will create a $20 million endowment to foster research collaboration between biomedical engineers and clinicians, with the goal of developing new technologies to improve patient care and human health.  Translational research moves new ideas and discoveries from university laboratories to new products and services that directly impact human health, often by creating startups or by partnering with established businesses.

EDUCAUSE continues to follow this issue and will report on developments as they arise.

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