Bayh-Dole Supporting Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Senator Birch Bayh (right) with then Staffer Joe Allen (left) in a Bayh-Dole Act hearing in 1980.

Commercialization of university intellectual property has steadily grown since the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980. Historically, the focus has been on faculty inventors. Recent trends show increasing acceptance and encouragement of students in the economic development of their ideas.

In an effort to better understand this trend, several organizations that specialize in technology transfer education and data collection launched a survey focused exclusively on student IP. The survey, which was conducted by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), ACCT Canada, the National Collegiate Inventor and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA), and PraxisUnico, collected data from 90 colleges and universities in 15 countries.

Here are some highlights from the survey results.

  • When asked the number of patentable or copyrightable student inventions occurring annually, 12% of surveyed schools reported more than 100, 18% reported 26 – 100, 44% reported 6 – 25, and 26% reported five or fewer.
  • Ongoing efforts to support student entrepreneurship and/or invention on campus included a variety of programs:
    • Entrepreneurship classes, bootcamps or other programs: 84%
    • Business plan competitions: 72%
    • Incubators for student-owned companies: 50%
    • Student entrepreneurship funding: 41%
    • NCIIA programs: 10%
  • 72% of universities and colleges provide resources to help students learn about and navigate intellectual property and commercialization issues.
  • 70% have a formal policy and/or guidelines addressing ownership of student inventions.
  • 36% have formal procedures for processing student inventions.
  • 48% proactively inform faculty and staff about policies or guidelines relating to student ownership rights and how it could impact them.
  • 51% proactively inform companies working with students on R&D, or involved in student education in any other way, about policies or guidelines relating to student ownership rights and how it could impact them.

“The rise in student interest in invention commercialization is attributable to many factors,” says AUTM President Todd Sherer, CLP. “These students grew up with computer technology and embrace it. They are aware of the economic landscape and are taking active steps to direct their own future. At the same time, universities are fostering an entrepreneurial environment and encouraging involvement in the technology transfer process. Cultural, economic and university infrastructure influences have converged to increase entrepreneurial excitement among our students,” adds Sherer.

AUTM Vice President for Membership Phyl Speser, RTTP, chairs the AUTM Student IP Committee. “In a time when countries around the world are looking at how to enhance economic development, it is very exciting to be able to highlight another way in which universities are stimulating and bringing innovations to market as well as contributing to the education of tomorrow’s business leaders,” says Speser. “By supporting student innovation and entrepreneurship, AUTM hopes to see commercialization of student inventions grow just as we have seen growth in the commercialization of faculty inventions,” adds Speser.

Additional data and resources will be available through AUTM, ACCT Canada, NCIIA and PraxisUnico in the coming year.


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