Course Helps Position Diverse Inventors for Tech Transfer Success  

Laurie Self
Senior Vice President and Counsel, Government Affairs
Qualcomm Incorporated


Sudeepto Roy
VP Engi
neering, Qualcomm Technology Licensing

Program Lead, The Inventor's Patent Academy


Technology transfer professionals know that increasing the diversity of the inventor community will amplify the impact of innovation and bolster local and national economies. They also know that inventors from diverse backgrounds who have help navigating the challenges of the intellectual property system are more likely to arrive at a tech transfer office with an innovation that has commercialization potential. Now a new educational resource is giving those inventors guidance they can use to improve their odds of technology transfer success.

Research done by the World IP Organization and IP law scholars consistently points to wide gaps related to gender and race among inventors and patent recipients. Only 13% of inventors listed on US patents are women, while US-born Asian, Black, Latinx and Indigenous people account for less than 8% of US-born innovators.

The Inventor’s Patent Academy (TIPA), a free, online course, was created to address this gap by wireless technology company Qualcomm and Invent Together, an alliance of universities, nonprofits, companies and other stakeholders dedicated to improving diversity in innovation.

“Patenting is complex, expensive and time-consuming, and one of the goals of TIPA is to provide experiential knowledge and tools about patents and the patenting process to help inventors navigate through their IP facilitators, patent professionals and, ultimately, the experience at the USPTO [US Patent and Trademark Office],” said IP consultant and course co-founder Bernie Greenspan.

TIPA, launched in July 2022, was developed from an inventor’s perspective and offers actionable advice for navigating the intellectual property system and overcoming the systemic barriers that inventors of diverse backgrounds may experience in their education and professional life. It gives inventors a solid understanding of patent law and enables them to work successfully with tech transfer professionals to apply for and obtain patents so more groundbreaking inventions can be licensed, produced and commercialized to change the world, one idea at a time.

TIPA offers real-life stories of six inventors and how they surmounted challenges and protected their inventions. Dr. Maria Artunduaga, for example, is a Harvard and UC Berkeley-trained scientist and translational physician who switched from a surgical career to found medical device company Samay after witnessing her grandmother struggle with home lung monitoring technology.

In the first year since launch, TIPA has enrolled more than 1300 students. Based on anonymized survey responses, 80% of participants are inventors from historically excluded demographics. These include 44% women, 3% non-binary/other, 7% military/veteran, 32% Asian, 19% Black or African American, 11% Hispanic or Latinx, and 3% Indigenous American or Alaskan Native.

TIPA organizers and supporters believe everyone deserves the chance to invent and patent their ideas. Because there are still too many people who don’t know how to navigate the process, or even where to start, TIPA is one way to help increase access to the invention process. Helping individuals and organizations overcome the main barriers to technology transfer and implementation related to structural, technical, human and cultural factors will ultimately create more jobs, boost the economy, close wage and wealth gaps and reveal new ways to improve society as a whole.