Photo by Amanda Garcia
Due to recent state budget cuts and the effect on the University of California system, the UC Board of Regents has begun to look into alternative forms of revenue to supplement the current budget. One idea brought to the table during their Jan. 19 meeting is to increase the frequency at which the University patents and licenses inventions created by technology discovered or developed from research done by UC faculty.
“We are going to have to innovate our way out of this mess,” said Keith R. Yamamoto, vice chancellor of Research, executive vice dean of the School of Medicine and professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at University of California San Francisco in reference to the budget crisis and lack of funding for the university system.
“Invest more in research, because research promotes invention and technology,” said Carol Mimura, assistant vice chancellor of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances at University of California Berkeley.
Universities transfer new innovations to the rest of the public through a variety of ways such as publication, sharing research materials and collaborating with industries such as Pfizer and BP, the latter of which entered a 10-year contract with Cal in 2007 that will fund the University’s work to discover better biofuels and other alternative energy sources and of course the training of students.
Since 1980 and the passage of the Bayh-Dole act, which allowed the University to profit from technology discovered through research done by the University’s own researchers, over $2.1 billion in revenue has been brought in by over 5,000 license agreements, and over 550 companies have been created in order to commercialize University technologies.
Encouraging more patents and licenses “will allow us to retract and attain the best faculty, who will in turn attract the best students,” said William Ouchi, a professor at University of California Los Angeles’s Anderson School of Management.
UC President Mark Yudof also recognized one important outcome that successful companies and businesses that sprout from University technologies worked on by faculty and graduate researchers have on the University system: successful alumni donate more money. Yudof noted during the session that donors who are successful because of the licensing program and the success of their inventions tend to be willing to donate more money, especially when the source of their money is because of the University.
While no action to proceed with garnering more funding from patent and licensing technology was voted on, the board and Chairwoman Sherry Lansing seemed pleased with the discussion.
“I think we should take a hard look at this,” Yudof said, at the closing of the session “we need to have objective standards.”
“We wanted it [the session] to be about robust discussion, robust input, localization to each campus,” said Lansing at the close of the session as well “but what is important to me is people that are engaged.”