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Federal Technology Watch

A study released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) last week offers data on the importance of university/industry r&d partnerships to the US economy.

The Economic Impact of Licensed Commercialized Inventions Originating in University Research, 1996-2007, finds a $187-billion positive impact on the US Gross National Product (GNP) and a $457-billion addition to gross industrial output, using very conservative models.


Funded by BIO, the study was headed by Georgia Institute of Technology professor of public policy emeritus David Roessner, and assessed the economic impact of university licensing based solely on royalty data. Since it doesn't attempt to value the other major economic contributions of university-based research, the estimates are considered to be very conservative.


"It has long been believed that the Bayh-Dole Act, which permits and encourages industry to partner with research universities to turn federally-funded basic research into new and valuable products, is a critical factor in driving America's innovation economy," BIO president & CEO Jim Greenwood said Oct.28. "Indeed, because of this inspired piece of legislation, the US leads the world in commercializing university-based research to create new companies and good, high-paying jobs. This new study provides the evidence to back up that belief."

Prior to enactment of the Bayh-Dole legislation in1980, inventions arising from the billions of federal dollars invested annually in university research remained largely on shelves at labs and were rarely commercialized due to restrictive patenting and licensing practices. After Bayh-Dole, this situation changed dramatically and one result was the birth of the biotech revolution.

Among the study's key findings are:


  • University-licensed products commercialized by industry created at least 279,000 new jobs across the nation during the 12-year period analyzed;
  • The annual change in US GDP due to university-licensed products grew each year, showing that the impact of university patent licensing grows even more important each year.


"We can't take tech-transfer, or the US patent system upon which it's based, for granted, particularly in the current economy," added Greenwood. "Preserving this system is critical to ensuring US economic revival and spurring the next wave of American innovation in the life sciences."

The study is at:


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