Every year, countless innovations with the potential to change our world are developed in research institutions and not-for-profit universities. Unfortunately, a lack of commercialization resources and business acumen often prevents this research from reaching its full mercantile potential. The solution to this is known as technology transfer; the pairing of groundbreaking research with the tools to make it a commercial success. This partnership can be used by any non-profit research establishment-hospitals, government agencies, public universities-to assist in bringing their research to the public. For businesses looking for new products and new avenues of growth, tech transfer opportunities can be a huge boon!
The Bayh-Dole Act, so named for the bipartisan sponsors of the legislation, helped pave the way for technology transfer. First enacted in 1980, the act gives research institutions many important rights related to licensing, patents, and intellectual property protection. Since its inception, the act has been praised by researchers, government agencies, and politicians alike as being a hallmark of a new era of innovation. Other countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, and China have adopted similar legislation since then, allowing researchers across the world greater freedom to develop, protect, and license their intellectual property.
Since the inception of the Bayh-Dole act, technology transfer programs have exploded across the country. In 1980, U.S. universities received fewer than 250 patents collectively. As of 2016, that number was over 7,000. Additionally, over 1,000 startups were formed from these patents, with 800 new commercial products being developed. This is a valuable source of ideas and growth for businesses as well as revenue for universities, who are entitled to a large part of the licensing royalties of their commercial endeavors.
Benefits of Tech Transfer
As it has grown, tech transfer has benefited both research institutions and society as a whole. Tech transfer has led to new startups, new products, and new markets. This has led to an improved quality of life for many different groups. Since 1980, over 200 new drug patents have resulted from tech transfer, providing medicine for those who need it. Since 1995, over 11,000 new startups have sprung up, injecting new jobs into the economy. In that same period, $591 billion has been added to the United States gross domestic product, leading to a healthier economy as a whole and a higher quality of living for countless people.
Tech transfer has paid dividends to research institutions as well. Universities can now better retain their discoveries and incentivize their faculty to develop more innovative technologies. This has led to an influx of talented individuals joining these institutions and further pushing society and innovation forward.