Why is Tech Transfer Important to You?  And Why Are We Recognizing It?

By David L. Gulley, PhD, RTTP, CLP

December 12 marks the 39th anniversary of Bayh-Dole.  What is that and why is it important?  Next week is also “Tech Transfer Recognition Week” in the U.S., so we’re going to tell you how it has improved your life, the economy, and how the world has transformed because of it.  December 12 is also “Tech Transfer Professionals Day” and you’ll get a glimpse into how we go about our work, striving to make a better world.  And for those of you who are researchers, scientists, and inventors or future inventors, we invite you to join us on this journey.

First, the mysterious Bayh-Dole.  On December 12, 1980, the Bayh-Dole Act (P.L. 96-517, Patent and Trademark Act Amendments of 1980) created a uniform patent policy for U.S. federal agencies.  And strange as it may seem, it was a bi-partisan act of Congress that didn’t cost the U.S. taxpayers anything.  It was elegantly simple – it allowed small businesses and non-profit organizations, like universities, to own (“retain title” in legalese) inventions made under federally-funded research programs.  This was the birth of technology transfer as we know it today – and it was strategically important.  Recall the 1970s, the U.S. was struggling to compete with emerging technology clusters in Asia and elsewhere.  Technology transfer was seen as way to move U.S taxpayer-funded research discoveries into U.S. companies so they could innovate and compete on the global stage.

The U.S. is a leader in academic research and development.  In fact, U.S. universities spent $79.4 billion on R&D in 2018.  The federal government supplied $42 billion of that total and the rest came from state/local government, businesses, and the universities themselves.  These funds attract and retain faculty, students, and provides support for the university’s operations.

Research is also where technology transfer begins and that’s the focus of our TTO (Technology Transfer Office) at the Trust and our partnership with Puerto Rico’s universities and their researchers and scientists.

AUTM is the world’s largest association of technology transfer professionals with over 3,000 members who work in more than 800 universities, research centers, hospitals, businesses, and government organizations around the world.  AUTM also keeps track of the benefits and impacts of technology transfer.  Here is a graphic that gives you an idea of how tech transfer is driving our innovation economy.  We’re certain that you or someone you know has benefitted from technology transfer, and you may not have even known it.

Celebrate Tech Transfer Recognition Week with us.