AUTM Honors Senators Coons and Tillis

AUTM Honors Senators Chris Coons and Thom Tillis with Innovation MVP Awards for Their Strong Support of Patent Rights

WASHINGTON, DC, July 21, 2022  — Two United States Senators – Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) – have been honored as “Innovation MVPs” in recognition of their work to support patent rights. The awards were presented July 19 by AUTM, a global nonprofit that works to advance ideas from federally funded research institutions into the marketplace.

“Senators Coons and Tillis have worked tirelessly to promote strong patent rights, so our nation can reap the benefits of the research done by universities and other non-profit institutions,” said AUTM CEO Dr. Stephen J. Susalka.

Senator Coons, in his second Senate term and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a strong advocate of patent reliability, which is key to the commercialization of those discoveries. Without strong patents, investors are less willing to take the heavy financial risk necessary to move discoveries from the lab to market. The award was accepted on Sen. Coons’ behalf by his Chief Counsel Cassie Fields.

“Senator Coons’ leadership on legislation such as the STRONGER Patents Act, which was designed to protect the property rights of the inventors that grow the country's economy, has been truly extraordinary,” said AUTM Board Chair Ian McClure, Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact and Executive Director, UK Innovate at the University of Kentucky. “He has also been a vocal critic of legislation that would force us backward on patent rights. We applaud his work and thank him for his strong support.”

Senator Tillis, also in his second term, has similarly led the fight for patents

“Senator Tillis’s leadership on the issue of patent eligibility has been critical in calling out the need for major patent court reform,” Susalka added. “We are losing too many potential discoveries that are deemed ineligible for patenting due to erroneous court decisions. We look forward to continuing our work with Senator Tillis to correct this situation.”

AUTM’s Board of Directors hosted the award ceremony on Capitol Hill and met this week with key lawmakers and their staff.

“Whether it is a ruling by the US Patent and Trademark Office or legislation before Congress, the federal government plays an enormous role in our ability to take inventions from our labs and commercialize them for the benefit of all,” McClure said. “We’re committed to ensuring policymakers understand the importance of technology transfer to our national economy.”

The licensing of university and nonprofit research has made a significant contribution to U.S. gross domestic product, industrial gross output, and jobs over the last 25 years according to an independent study commissioned by AUTM and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

The report, “The Economic Contribution of University/Nonprofit Inventions in the United States: 1996-2020,” documents the sizable return that U.S. taxpayers receive on their investment in federally funded research. During a 25-year period, nonprofit patents and the subsequent licensing to industry, bolstered U.S. industry gross output by up to $1.9 trillion, U.S. GDP by up to $1 trillion and supported up to 6.5 million jobs.

About AUTM
AUTMis the non-profit leader in efforts to educate, promote and inspire professionals to support the development of academic research that changes the world and drives innovation forward. Our community is comprised of more than 3,000 members who work in more than 800 universities, research centers, hospitals, businesses, and government organizations around the globe.

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Editors’ Note: Images of Tillis and Coons accepting the awards are included below

See Even More Images from the Innovation MVP Award Reception