Daniel Dardani

Daniel Dardani, CLP

Director of Physical Sciences and Digital Innovations Licensing and Corporate Alliances
Duke University


Dan is a 20-year veteran licensing professional well-versed technology transfer and intellectual property matters.  He is currently the Director of Physical Sciences and Digital Innovations Licensing and Corporate Alliances at Duke University.  Prior to that, Dan was at the MIT Technology Licensing Office managing a large and sophisticated portfolio of technologies including: computer and information technology, patented algorithms, copyrighted software, digital imaging, video games, machine learning/AI, and cyber security technologies.  Dan has negotiated license agreements with many Fortune 500 businesses and startup companies. He has also assisted in negotiation of IP terms for significant sponsored research agreements. He adeptly counsels inventors and entrepreneurs on how to protect, leverage and transform university-born innovations into commercialization opportunities.  Dan is a Certified Licensing Professional who also co-teaches a course on intellectual property at Harvard University’s Summer School. He is broadly recognized as a leader in the field of software, AI and data, and is often interviewed and frequently sought to speak at professional conferences and business meetings around the world.   Dan has long served as an active member of AUTM, notably as chairperson on its Software Committee, and has received AUTM’s Volunteer Service Award twice in 2017 and 2021.  Dan is also on the advisory board at FAME, the Fashion, Arts, Media and Entertainment Law Center at Cardozo law school in New York City. He has degrees in physics and political science from the University of Rochester. 


What experience do you have working on or with a strategic Board of Directors? 

For seven years, I have been on the advisory board of Cardozo Law School’s FAME (Fashion Art Media & Entertainment) Center. The FAME Center’s Board drives creative and strategic decisions, plans, and programming across a myriad of IP areas. 

Please include a brief description of your volunteer experiences within AUTM. 

I have served as Chair of AUTM’s Software Course Committee for over a decade. The Software Course has steadily grown in size and scope to become the gold standard learning resource for AUTM licensing professionals who work with software assets and digital innovations and want to improve their skills and know how. In between committee work, I have been active as a volunteer speaker, panelist, and moderator at too many AUTM annual, regional, and international meetings to count. Including webinars, I would estimate I have spoken at over three dozen AUTM events over my career (with no signs of slowing down). I am proud to have been awarded the AUTM Volunteer Service Award twice in 2017 and 2021. 

Why do you want to join the AUTM Board of Directors? 

Chances are if you know my name then you’ve also heard my message. It is a message I have consistently advocated and preached for over 20 years in our industry. And that message is simply that software matters. Digital innovations – including patentable algorithms, machine learning techniques, data intensive applications, computation systems, and also open source code – are transforming our business and, in my opinion, have earned a seat at the main table. Digital innovations represent a growing portion of our case and technology disclosures, they are increasingly driving more aspects of license agreements and deal flow. In short, it has never been timelier to bring software and digital matters to the forefront. Likewise, it also makes sense to afford a voice to its experts and advocates within the higher levels of AUTM leadership. For over 20 years, I have been one of AUTM’s leading proponents of software and digital technology transfer matters. I have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to raising its profile alongside the other technical disciplines represented in our ranks. It is for this reason I am running to join the AUTM Board. I ask for your vote in support of my candidacy.

Another initiative I will champion if elected to serve on the AUTM board is to increase the international aspect to our meetings and educational offerings as part of a larger effort to be more diverse and inclusive. I have been approached by colleagues representing organizations in Central America, South America, Europe and Asia, each of them interested in expanding AUTM’s reach outwardly onto the globe. I want to work to make AUTM the unrivaled leader in worldwide technology transfer, growing with our international partners and engaging in meaningful cross pollination efforts. We all recognize that the best AUTM is one that welcomes the efforts and talents that our overseas colleagues bring in terms diversity and inclusiveness of ideas and solutions. 

Have you served in a volunteer leadership role for other organizations? If so, please explain. 

I have served as the Licensing Committee Co-Chair for the Boston Patent Law Association. I have also done volunteer work with the Licensing Executives Society (LES) and The MIT Enterprise Forum. In my personal time, I have volunteered as a baseball coach for the Melrose Little League in Massachusetts. 

If elected by the Membership to the Board, would you consider serving as Chair? Please explain. 

I believe organizations like AUTM are well served by “assembly line” upward streams of leadership movement. This is where newly elected board members first get initial exposure and training as they eventually work their way up in line toward higher roles with more responsibilities (e.g. the succession from Chair-elect to Chair to immediate-past Chair). This approach combines continuity with professional development and safeguards against the abrupt loss of institutional knowledge from exiting leaders. In this progression, I would welcome the opportunity to serve as Chair if and when the time was appropriate, because I would’ve been trained, guided, and supported on both ends by board colleagues. 

Please share personal strengths that you believe would be valuable to the AUTM Board and/or the strategic direction of the Association. 

Professionally, I am well versed in technology transfer and intellectual property matters. Personally, I am dependably relied on by my colleagues. I am happiest when being of service to others. I am proudly regarded as a team player and motivational supervisor. I identify as someone who always says “yes” to new challenges and opportunities, who rises to the situation at hand. As a leader, I am unafraid to push my team from behind to elicit participation from all and give credit where it’s due, but I’m equally capable at leading by example when needed. Throughout my career, I’ve been consistently praised as being facile in high pressure situations, having a knack for teaching, and for delivering effectively in fast-paced, dynamic environments. 

What special experience do you have in driving and implementing a strategic plan? 

When the MIT TLO decided it was time to change its entire office-wide IP database to a newer software platform, they chose me to serve as the project’s lead functional manager. Ambitious a task as there ever was, I was responsible for driving a large team of external consultants, programmers, project managers, and internal TLO staff stakeholders to coordinate the reassessment of current workflows with an eye towards designing, building and implementing a new database solution, a solution plan that would serve MIT for the next 20 years. In my new role as Director of Licensing at Duke, I supervise the strategic outreach, marketing, and licensing of physical sciences and digital innovations, and support development of corporate alliances, corporate partners, and negotiation of IP terms for significant sponsored research agreements. 

How do terms of  the position (both responsibilities and time commitment) fit with your other responsibilities? Will you have any conflicts of commitment between your full-time position and your volunteer time on the AUTM Board? 

Anyone who has served in some capacity as a volunteer for AUTM, for example committee work or panelist speaking, does so freely in spite of a fairly intense and heavy fulltime workload. There is always more to do than there is time, and every year we all get busier. Nonetheless, I think we strive to give back in spite of our busy schedules because we remain committed to our profession’s higher, collective mission to better society, and because we are desirous to help each other – to pay it forward. If elected, I will ensure my fulltime position responsibilities are effectively managed within the breadth of my AUTM commitments. Luckily, my university – like many others, I’m sure – understands that work done in support of AUTM is important and is a necessary component of my fulltime position rather than a distraction. I find this helps with my juggling. 

AUTM is committed to addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion both on the Board and on behalf of our Members. Briefly describe how your experiences can contribute to the Association’s growth in this area.

As said earlier, one of my reasons for running is to drive and increase AUTM’s international representation. I think global perspectives and the needs of overseas partners should inform AUTM’s thinking on diversity and inclusiveness overall. I have had opportunity to work alongside of peers outside of the US. Each of these diverse voices from around the world shared a desire to reach across borders to blend training, tactics, and ideas. My goal would be to build from this want, work within the Board to extend AUTM’s international presence, and heed the advice coming from these new voices. 

Advocacy for the innovation ecosystem is something AUTM has promoted recently.  How do you think AUTM should continue to be involved? 

AUTM needs to be the tip of the spear in national conversations on the innovation ecosystem. Every several years, voices in the government put Bayh Dole in the cross hairs, suffering periodic bouts of amnesia over its improbable but undeniable success, threatening talks of March-In rights and proposing new ways to “fix” but actually undermine its effectiveness. AUTM has always been Bayh Dole’s frontline defense and a staunch protector. I think it must continue to stand guard and serve in that purpose, now more than ever. 

Is there anything else you would like AUTM Members to know about you before they vote? 

For 20 years, I have steadfastly served my AUTM colleagues as a volunteer, first at MIT and now at Duke. If elected to the Board, I would continue to exercise good judgement and work hard to fulfill AUTM’s mission and raise its reputation even higher.