HD25 - Accelerating the Commercialization of Virginia University Research Results through Improved Management of Intellectual Property

Executive Summary:
The Intellectual Property Committee of the Virginia Research and Technology Advisory Commission (VRTAC) reviewed the present intellectual property (IP) framework in the Commonwealth, and evaluated its propensity to create economic opportunity within the existing structure. Benchmarks of other universities and states were analyzed along with their incentives and ability to provide a return on taxpayer investment. The resulting report provides suggested policies and procedures that will improve the existing IP structure, lead to an increase in private sector investment in R&D performed in Virginia's universities, and enhance the environment and opportunities for creating innovative start-up companies driving new economic growth in the Commonwealth.

This report is in response to two pieces of legislation addressed by the Virginia Research and Technology Advisory Commission's Intellectual Property Committee. The Honorable Jeannemarie Devolites, Member of Virginia's House of Delegates, patroned HB530, which directed the development of a statewide policy and uniform standard for the commercialization of intellectual property developed through university research. Delegate Devolites also patroned HJ88, which requested recommendations for incentives necessary to encourage the commercialization of university research and development.

The committee considered and debated a broad range of IP issues and ultimately developed a series of recommendations that could be addressed without immediate budgetary considerations, due to the difficult economy. These recommendations represent the second phase of an evolutionary process for improving management of Virginia's IP resources, building upon the VRTAC IP Committee's efforts in the November 2000 report. The first recommendation explicitly stresses a commitment to continue to address strategies for enhanced IP; it is anticipated that VRTAC will continue to actively pursue evolutionary refinements to Virginia's intellectual property policies. Current recommendations include:

(1) Develop and implement a statewide strategic plan for research and development in the Commonwealth
(2) Facilitate conflict of interest waivers for research and technology commercialization
(3) Make success in technology commercialization a consideration in faculty promotion and tenure decisions
(4) Virginia's research universities must agree on, adopt, and promulgate a uniform statement of policy regarding technology transfer to industry
(5) Authorize university boards of visitors to assign title to university-owned inventions
(6) Establish a uniform, web-based protocol for initiating industry-supported research projects and technology transfer agreements with Virginia's universities
(7) Create a university technology commercialization support fund