APLU President Peter McPherson spoke at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Unleashing American Innovation event last week in Washington, D.C. The event served as the launch of the agency’s Return on Investment (ROI) Initiative, which seeks to assess, streamline, and accelerate the transfer of technology to the private sector. The initiative also aims to foster greater economic and national security returns on the federal government’s annual $150 billion investment in research and development.
President McPherson’s remarks focused on recent APLU technology transfer initiatives, including the 2017 Technology Transfer Evolution: Driving Economic Prosperity report and the complementary 2015 APLU and Association of American Universities (AAU) statements on university technology transfer and managing intellectual property in the public interest. These efforts collectively emphasize the fundamental importance of research universities to the United States’ innovation ecosystem.
McPherson described how technology transfer offices on campus should be an instrument for economic development as well as part of a university’s overall engagement strategy. He recounted how university technology transfer facilitates research universities’ public service missions and should be gauged by metrics rather than just revenue generation. McPherson also highlighted the role of university technology transfer as an engine of opportunity, noting how APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities Program has helped drive evolution of the technology transfer role in economic development.
McPherson participated in the second panel of the day, “University Perspectives,” along with Dr. Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences; Dr. Mark Kamlet, University Professor of Economics and Public Policy and Provost Emeritus, Carnegie Mellon University; Dr. Paul Sanberg, President of the National Academy of Inventors and Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Knowledge Enterprise at the University of South Florida; and Dr. Stephen Susalka, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).
The NIST ROI Initiative will solicit broad input from federal R&D, intellectual property, and technology transfer stakeholders to identify critical improvements to existing federal technology transfer efforts and improve transfer of federally funded technologies from lab to market. A Request for Information (RFI) and Public Forums will be announced in the Federal Register later this spring and will be distributed widely. In addition, APLU will host Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Dr. Walter Copan for a discussion concerning university technology transfer at the 2018 Council on Engagement and Outreach (CEO) & Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) Joint Summer Meeting in Richmond, Virginia on June 25.