AUTM Advocacy Update

Recognizing Technology Transfer Successes. Get Involved

By Mike Waring

October 9, 2019
In late 1980, as the 96th Congress was winding down, Senators Birch Bayh (D-IN) and Bob Dole (R-KS) were able to pass the Bayh-Dole Act. Its intent was simple: unleash the curiosity and inventive spirit on American university campuses and provide an economic incentive to move more of the great ideas developed in college labs into the marketplace.
The success of that endeavor continues today, nearly 40 years later with more than a trillion dollars of economic activity — millions of jobs — thousands of patents and start-ups that support new technologies, new drugs and new medical devices.
AUTM encourages tech transfer offices to tell the Bayh-Dole success story over and over again to local and federal policymakers. They need to know that the cell phone they carry, the MRI they get, and the satellite technology that defends our nation did not just magically appear. These technologies are here today and will be tomorrow because Congress — courtesy the wisdom of Bayh-Dole — gave universities and their inventors economic incentives to move these great ideas out of the labs and into the marketplace to help the taxpayers, whose tax dollars helped create much of that largesse.
So how can AUTM members make this point? One potential opportunity will come up this December 9-13, when Tech Transfer Recognition Week is held. That week marks the anniversary of Bayh-Dole’s passage — and an opportunity to tell policymakers what they should be hearing every day of the year: that tech transfer:
  • Is vitally important to the health and success of the global economy
  • Fulfills the promise of research
  • Changes lives and protects our nation
Participating in Recognition Week is less about tech transfer than it is about reminding political leaders and the public that policies and funding for research are crucial to seeing American technology continue to lead the world. There is a toolkit on the AUTM website to help you plan your tech transfer office activities. Last year more than a dozen TTOs got involved — hosting open houses and workshops, spotlighting innovators through awards programs, and sharing the impact of tech transfer in local media.  
Whether or not your office participates, let’s all pledge to use every opportunity and avenue to speak about the amazing world we live in — thanks to the research and innovation at America’s research universities.
Mike Waring is the Chair of AUTM’s Advocacy and Alliances portfolio and Executive Director of Federal Relations for the University of Michigan.