The Way I See It… by Michael C. Volker
Successful technology commercialization requires patent dollars
The Bayh-Dole Act in the
The economic benefits
from licensing technology and patents have been increasing steadily.
Transferring technology into startups in exchange for equity has become a
standard practice throughout
The financial payoff
to universities may be several years out as we wait for these companies to
mature. Yet, when compared to generating royalty income from licensing, it may
well be worth the wait. In the AUTM survey, 198 American and Canadian
institutions reported gross license income of only US$1.07 billion on sponsored
research expenditures of US$31.7 billion. The 27 Canadian respondents report
having received only $64.5 million compared to $2.7 billion in research
expenditures. The Canadian figure is up 82% from the previous year and is
largely due to the
In the absence of Bayh-Dole style legislation in
Still, I believe we could do much better. In addition to the usual early stage funding challenges for young companies, resources are needed to protect the intellectual assets, i.e. for patenting, in the first instance. University technology transfer offices are getting better at doing this but playing the patent game requires cash. And, that’s a little too early even for some of the most venturesome angel investors.
Some government granting agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, a primary supplier of research and development funding to university researchers, are recognizing the importance of protecting taxpayers’ investment in intellectual property and have started to provide modest financial support to university technology managers. More is needed.
For several decades, before it was disbanded in the late 1980’s, the Canadian Patent and Development Limited, did a marginal job of commercializing the research performed at government labs. It also assisted universities with patenting matters, but with limited effectiveness.
Now that technology transfer offices are performing this function, and getting better at it, why not offer themselves as a resource, on a fee for service basis, to technology companies on a broader scale? Because of the complex legal issues and rules associated with patent prosecution and protection, such a service would dovetail nicely with that provided by patent attorneys and agents, keeping costs down for nascent startups. Even friendly advice on some do’s and don’ts would be helpful.
way I see it, in order to advance
Michael Volker is a high technology entrepreneur and