Universities engage in technology transfer to ensure that new discoveries and innovations resulting from scientific research are translated into technologies and products that benefit the public and promote economic activity.
Typically, universities transfer technology by first protecting innovations through patents and copyrights, and then licensing them to industry for commercial development. Revenues received from licensing are shared with the creator/creators of the technology; reinvested in research activities such as graduate student support, equipment purchases, and follow-on research; and used to help sustain the technology transfer process on campus.
The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act created a uniform patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research and enabled universities, nonprofit research institutions, and small businesses to retain title to inventions they made using federal research funding. Before enactment of the law, new discoveries from federally funded research went directly into the public domain. Discoveries often languished because companies were reluctant to invest the significant time and money needed to develop these early-stage discoveries into products and processes if they could not be protected against competition through an exclusive license. Bayh-Dole sparked technology transfer by creating an incentive for universities to protect their innovations, which, in turn, enabled businesses to invest in high-risk development without fear of unfair competition
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