Committees formed by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Universities (AAU) to examine and affirm university policies and values regarding innovation, technology transfer, and commercialization today each released a set of principles and recommendations for institutions. The groups’ recommendations detail steps universities can take to ensure that institutional policies align with these principles and are readily transparent to the public, policymakers, and potential university partners.
President Satish Tripathi of the University at Buffalo and Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, Senior Vice President for Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University, led the APLU Task Force on Managing University Intellectual Property. Presidents Robert Brown of Boston University and Eric Kaler of the University of Minnesota led the AAU Working Group on Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property.
In describing why it was issuing its report, the AAU task force wrote, “Universities have a responsibility to be good stewards of discoveries and intellectual property developed from research supported by federal funding…We believe the actions we are recommending here can help assure the public and policymakers that universities continue to be focused on their primary missions [of education, research, and public service], and that their technology transfer operations are being managed in a way that serves these missions.”
In issuing its report, APLU’s Task Force on Managing University Intellectual Property noted, “The Task Force is issuing this statement of recommendations to highlight important principles that have been under review by task force members, to make clear to the public and interested parties the fundamental commitments of our community, and to prompt universities to begin taking steps to ensure that local policies are in line with these principles…The task force recommends that university presidents convene a senior level committee on their campuses to review these recommendations and discuss implementation.”
The two groups noted that a primary mission of universities is to serve the nation by ensuring that discoveries made on their campuses can be developed by the private sector for the benefit of consumers. However, the groups noted that while universities act responsibly and appropriately, they have not always clearly defined the principles that guide such work or communicated them publicly.
The principles and recommendation from the two groups include the following:
AAU and APLU are recommending to their member universities that have not already done so to take specific actions to protect and preserve the principles detailed in the reports. The associations will continue to support efforts related to the recommendations. APLU’s task force will collect examples of innovative and effective practices in university intellectual property management and will disseminate those examples later this year. AAU will take steps to identify measures and methodologies for evaluating the effectiveness of technology transfer beyond revenue generation. Both associations will discuss the recommendations at upcoming meetings of their presidents and provosts.