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Folks, Does anybody have some pointers for working with one's technology transfer office? We've developed an enterprise testing application (ChiTester) at our school that is being adopted at a number of other schools in the country. As we examine the best way to share it more broadly, our technology transfer office is suggesting that we transfer ownership to a private company. Has anybody else on this list faced similar challenges? What are some pragmatic strategies to convince a technology transfer office to consider the sort of licensing and business arrangements that this group espouses? Cheers, Luke Fernandez Weber State University ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

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Luke, The following report may be of use for your Tech Transfer Office. We had a big discussion of this back in 2006 when we were assessing how to make it easier for higher ed to share software and work through many varied campus policies. The workshop roster included legal counsel, tech transfer offices, foundations, etc. We've used it with many institutions that are working through the mechanics of sharing software. Commercializing it is always an option, but for many categories of tools/modules, the probability of growing a company/product to a large success is non-zero, but modest relative to the costs of doing so. I serve on the board of IU's Tech Transfer Corporation. Hope this helps -- Brad Title: Open Source Collaboration in Higher Education: Guidelines and Report of the Licensing and Policy Framework Summit for Software Sharing in Higher Education http://go.iu.edu/67B Abstract: Higher education has long valued the collaborative production and sharing of knowledge. Thus, the rise of software communities powered by the near frictionless cost of the Internet and open source software production techniques seems a natural fit for colleges and universities. One vexing challenge, however, has been finding a common legal and policy framework for software contributions, licensing, and distribution of collaboratively developed work. In the absence of a common framework, heterogeneous policies and licenses will remain an unhealthy drag on considerable economies that we can harness when we benefit from others' investments. Colleges and universities, as the primary beneficiary of software sharing, must be proactive in creating, adopting, and advocating for a common framework if we are to ever take full advantage of these opportunities. We are grateful that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recognizes this problem and funded the October 2006 gathering of some thought leaders to work on these challenges. Our distinguished attendees were drawn from university legal counsel, technology transfer offices, open source projects, governmental funding agencies, and foundations, with representatives from multiple continents. We worked hard via electronic communication before the summit, during two days of intensive face-to-face discussions, and through much follow up afterward. The electronic communications were open to all at http://collabtools.org. This document is one of the work products of the summit, and it includes a set of educational materials for an institution's engagement with open source application software. Action and implementation will be the key arbiter of value, and we urge institutions, projects, and funding agencies to engage in the ongoing work of refining and implementing the work started here.
Brad et al,

Thanks for forwarding that report. There is good material in there and I'm thinking of forwarding it to my tech transfer
officer.  If anybody else has some insights I'd be psyched to hear
from you.  The below (which is a paraphrase of an email I sent to
Josh) is the immediate concern I'm trying to address.  Does anybody have a good
answer that would have traction with a tech transfer office?

"Are there any more resources or information any of you could provide
that would illustrate how university parties who have commercial
interests can work in partnership with a software that is licensed
under open source?  To be sure the software  was developed
with public monies and grants that specifically encouraged (but don't
mandate) that the software be shared openly.  But given our fiscal
circumstances it would be impractical for me to ignore my
institution's (and my fellow programmer's) desires to pursue
commercial prospects as well.   What is the best way to illustrate
that a move to open source can cater to the imperatives of openness
while also catering to the commercial interests which universities
(and especially tech transfer offices) also harbor?"

Thanks for your help,

Luke
 
---------------------------------------
 
Luke Fernandez, Ph.D.
Manager of Program and Technology Development
Weber State University
 


>>> "Wheeler, Bradley C" <bwheeler@IU.EDU> 10/22/2012 7:25 AM >>>
Luke,

The following report may be of use for your Tech Transfer Office.  We had a big discussion of this back in 2006 when we were assessing how to make it easier for higher ed to share software and work through many varied campus policies.  The workshop roster included legal counsel, tech transfer offices, foundations, etc.  We've used it with many institutions that are working through the mechanics of sharing software.  Commercializing it is always an option, but for many categories of tools/modules, the probability of growing a company/product to a large success is non-zero, but modest relative to the costs of doing so.  I serve on the board of IU's Tech Transfer Corporation.

Hope this helps -- Brad


Title: Open Source Collaboration in Higher Education: Guidelines and Report of the Licensing and Policy Framework Summit for Software Sharing in Higher Education

http://go.iu.edu/67B

Abstract:

Higher education has long valued the collaborative production and sharing of knowledge. Thus, the rise of software communities powered by the near frictionless cost of the Internet and open source software production techniques seems a natural fit for colleges and universities. One vexing challenge, however, has been finding a common legal and policy framework for software contributions, licensing, and distribution of collaboratively developed work. In the absence of a common framework, heterogeneous policies and licenses will remain an unhealthy drag on considerable economies that we can harness when we benefit from others' investments. Colleges and universities, as the primary beneficiary of software sharing, must be proactive in creating, adopting, and advocating for a common framework if we are to ever take full advantage of these opportunities.

We are grateful that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recognizes this problem and funded the October 2006 gathering of some thought leaders to work on these challenges. Our distinguished attendees were drawn from university legal counsel, technology transfer offices, open source projects, governmental funding agencies, and foundations, with representatives from multiple continents. We worked hard via electronic communication before the summit, during two days of intensive face-to-face discussions, and through much follow up afterward. The electronic communications were open to all at http://collabtools.org. This document is one of the work products of the summit, and it includes a set of educational materials for an institution's engagement with open source application software. Action and implementation will be the key arbiter of value, and we urge institutions, projects, and funding agencies to engage in the ongoing work of refining and implementing the work started here.


Maybe I'm just lucky, but at our place the Tech Transfer Office helps us pursue the approach we think is best for the University and doesn't get to make that decision for us. Once we explained "community" to them they have let us go our own way. I haven't reviewed the IU report yet (thanks Brad!), but my suggestion would be to try to do both: make the software freely available under an appropriate open source license AND let the TT office & stakeholder(s) figure out if there's a business case to be made to ALSO invest in the (substantial) additional work associated with conventional commercialization and related services. best, david
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