Thursday, February 6, 2014

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UT System Regents establish task force on intellectual property

Facilitating and expanding intellectual property transactions – a vital connection between institutions of higher education and industry – will be the focus of a new University of Texas System task force looking to strengthen this important relationship.

Already, the UT System’s research engine drives research and development programs worth $2.5 billion in sponsored federal, state, private grants and contract projects. The continued vibrancy of the university discovery mission is linked to the strength of academic-industry partnerships, said UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.  

That effort means the System receives one U.S. patent every two days; signs a commercialization agreement every three days; and starts a new company every nine days. In fiscal year 2012, alone, the System executed 110 new patent licenses, generating total revenue of $64.8 million.

With so much at stake, there is a need to review opportunities for, and barriers to, expanded industry engagement that supports critical research, he noted.

“We are very proud of the research our faculty perform every day that improves our quality of life in Texas and around the world,” Cigarroa said.

The task force will study three initiatives. The initiatives will involve developing a better understanding of research “product inventory” and the proposed creation of a research/commercialization data warehouse; determine how best to develop new academic-industry partnerships for biopharmaceutical and biomedical devices; and, develop new approaches to educating and advancing student and faculty entrepreneurs.

Under the charge from Regents Chairman Paul L. Foster, the Task Force on Intellectual Property Issues will evaluate the intent, current language, workability and requirements of the Regents’ Rules relating to the disposition and management of research-derived intellectual property at the various institutions and recommend changes or revisions.

Foster said that the task force will:

  • Consider best practices at public university systems for the disposition and management of intellectual property,
  • Evaluate new and emerging models of flexible intellectual property ownership as implemented by peer universities and academic health institutions,
  • Review compliance with the Regents’ Rules concerning intellectual property and any proposed changes or revisions with applicable federal and state law,
  • Review potential impact of any such changes in disposition and management of intellectual property to researchers at all levels,  
  • Consider potential impact for industry partnerships and contract review processes to ensure the timely execution of transactions.

The task force will review institutional approaches toward intellectual property and how they affect industry-sponsored research and philanthropy, striving to achieve a balance between protection of institutional intellectual property interests and engagement of industry and the commercialization process.

About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and a fall 2013 enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $14.6 billion (FY 2014) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 87,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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