AUTM Updates

Board Members Fan Out Across Capital Hill to Tell Tech Transfer's Story

Not every policymaker on Capitol Hill can be an Innovation MVP, but many Congressional staffers now have a better appreciation for technology transfer and its value after visiting with members of the AUTM Board of Directors.

Following a reception where Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) were honored as Innovation MVPs for their support of academic technology transfer, eight AUTM Board Members dispersed to visit the offices of Congresspeople from the states where they live.

“AUTM’s engagement with law makers in advocating strong predicable intellectual property rights and funding for innovation is important at this critical time. Together we can shape the future,” said Board Member Alice Li, Executive Director of the Center for Technology Licensing at Cornell University.

The Board Members entered these short meetings prepared to discuss issues armed with possible talking points that included the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act, the Promoting and Respecting Economically Vital American Innovation Leadership (PREVAIL) Act and National Science Foundation funding for technology transfer authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act. But each visit opened with the question “What do you know about tech transfer?”

“Starting with that question allowed us to set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Most staffers were not, and so we were able to use the AUTM Cycle of Innovation infographic to showcase the process from ideation to market,” said first-year Board Member Megan Aanstoos, Senior Program Manager at VentureWell. Aanstoos, an Indiana resident, and fellow Director Anji Miller, Senior Business Manager with LifeArc, visited the offices of two senators and two representatives from Indiana.
“For the discussion, we framed the concerns around the state and the institutions in that state—both institutions of higher education and companies,” Aanstoos said. “Some Congresspeople were more concerned with small business needs, so we were also able to share how patenting and strong support for the legal process helps small businesses to grow and thrive. Others were more concerned about economic impact for the United States and for their area, so we were able to discuss the benefits of building communities and supporting ecosystems through federal funding programs.” 
Li joined fellow Board Member Sadhana Chitale, Senior Director of Life Sciences Technology Transfer at NYU Langone Health, in visiting the offices of two senators and two representatives from New York; Li also visited the offices of three other representatives from the same state.

This was the second year of Capitol Hill visits for Li, which meant she wasn’t always starting from square one when discussing technology transfer.

“I was happily surprised to hear a staffer in a representative’s office say, ‘I remember this chart about university startups from last year’ in reference to the AUTM Cycle of Innovation infographic,” Li said, adding that other staffers asked for specific innovation success stories and had questions about how a proposed bill will help address patent issues.