Simpler Sponsoring

Universities receive funding for research from government sources as well as industry partners.  Currently, several large universities are focusing on the industry-sponsored sector of research. They have made changes to their intellectual property policies in order to attract more corporate partners.

Penn State University (PSU) has begun giving the IP property rights and possible royalties from industry-sponsored research to the sponsors. When a project is partially government funded and must remain university owned, PSU will provide a licensing option instead. The decision to change the IP policy came after an analysis of the benefits and costs of sponsored research agreements and the realization that the current policy was expensive and did not yield much revenue.

Similarly, the University of Minnesota has simplified the contracts that it presents to industry sponsors. It allows the companies to purchase exclusive rights to findings for an initial fee to avoid months of negotiations.

These changes may raise questions about the entanglement of industry and academics, but universities are seeing good results. The University of Minnesota has said that the policy change has already brought in additional funding that wouldn’t have otherwise been available. Both schools do recommend careful evaluation of IP revenues before a change of policy to ensure success.

What are your views on industry sponsored research? Will it be beneficial for these universities in the long run?

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