The Time is Now for a Full-Court Press in Support of Tech Transfer
Mike Waring
AUTM Advocacy and Alliances Coordinator

As highlighted in the recent webinar led by AUTM Chair Ian McClure and others in AUTM leadership, now is the time to engage with your research leadership and federal relations officers to support potential federal funding for tech transfer in the form of the U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness Act (USICA) legislation.
Time is short. Congress will leave for its August recess sooner than one would think, and once the fall arrives the focus will be almost totally on the November mid-term elections. The window to find common ground on the House and Senate innovation bills is therefore in the next few weeks. This may be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new funding stream for technology transfer. Let’s all do our part to try and move this legislation across the goal line.
As highlighted in previous columns, the U.S. Senate passed USICA last year. This legislation includes major funding for the National Science Funding and addresses some concerns about research oversight, especially involving foreign countries. That bill also includes  important new opportunities for federal support for tech transfer offices and the work they do to churn out new ideas and commercialize them, as well as support for educating faculty and helping smaller TTOs be more innovative.
Every university in the country has a stake in this legislation, both from a funding perspective as well as a regulatory one. Getting the tech transfer piece on your university’s radar screen is now front and center.
The Senate bill now needs to be married to a House bill that covers many of the same subjects, but not the new authorized funding to directly assist tech transfer. AUTM’s goal is to encourage its Members to have their institutions weigh in with Congress as a House-Senate conference committee attempts to develop a unified final version of the innovation legislation. The goal is to get any final version to include the Senate’s language on tech transfer. AUTM is also engaged in direct advocacy with key players in Washington.
Your to-do list is as follows:
  • Review the AUTM talking points for how this funding could potentially help your office expand its impact
  • Meet with your VP of Research and hopefully your federal relations team to see if they will add support for the tech transfer provisions as part of their overall advocacy on the bills now in conference
  • Offer to provide additional support, data, and real-world examples of how your office is making a difference now, and how it could do even more if this funding were approved and appropriated
There are over 100 members of the House and Senate working to resolve these bills. Your federal relations office will know which members from your state are part of the conference and they can guide the discussion to the right lawmakers. Your job is simply to urge that they do so.