AUTM Advocacy Update

AUTM-BIO Report Highlights Tech Transfer Benefits to US Economy. You Can Too.

By Mike Waring

June 19, 2019
Last week on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, AUTM and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) showcased a key joint-report that affirmed the vital role university technology transfer plays in boosting the American economy, providing new treatments and cures for disease, and creating jobs. 

The report was presented at an event sponsored by the Congressional Tech Transfer Caucus and featured a panel of start-up leaders, including Sven Karlsson, COO and Founder of Platelet BioGenesis and Abhishek Motayed, Founder and CEO of N5Sensors, illustrating the impact tech transfer has on economic stimulation. It was a compelling look at the work we all support, delivered to a standing-room only crowd of Congressional staffers. 

Among the report’s top findings, between 1996 and 2017 university tech transfer led to a Gross Domestic Project (GDP) impact of up to $865 billion. The gross industrial output over those 20 years was up to $1.7 trillion. And the discoveries and commercialization of these technologies supported up to 5.9 million jobs nationwide. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

These data points brilliantly demonstrate the power of the Bayh-Dole Act, which passed Congress in 1980 and created the impetus to give universities the licensing rights for their discoveries. Using their patent rights and the ingenuity of their researchers, America’s research universities have paved the way for our economy to grow and out-compete nations around the globe in innovation.  New medicines and medical devices are created.  National security has been enhanced.  And thousands of researchers and their students advanced the knowledge base of science for the betterment of mankind.

But reports are not enough. The story of the value of technology transfer needs to be told by all of us as we interact with policymakers and the general public.  Continued support for federal research dollars at agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense, Energy and others is crucial to seeing continued growth in American technological leadership. Strong patent rights are critical to allow these discoveries to attract the venture capital is necessary to feed the innovation ecosystem. 

AUTM members can and should take great pride in the results of this work.  But it will only continue if policymakers continue to support that work. What can you do to help? Make telling your story an important part of your tech transfer operation.  Through your local public relations efforts, the Better World Project,  and by working with your federal relations officers, your story of tech transfer success can help advance our agenda. Get involved.

Mike Waring, is the Chair of AUTM’s Advocacy and Alliances portfolio and the Executive Director of Federal Relations for the University of Michigan.