Improving Innovation in Research Universities by Incentivizing Researchers

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Written by Joy Goswami, Assistant Director, Technology Transfer & Corporate Partnerships, University of Delaware, USA February 22, 2019 – organized by neucrad health

In the last few years there has been a general awareness of the importance of innovation and entrepreneurism in sustaining economic revival and growth in the US.

Our nation’s innovation advantage arises from its: (a) First-class research university system, (b) strong intellectual property laws, and (c) significant public and private investment in research and development.

Universities are constantly being asked to play a dominant role in our knowledge-centric economy by transforming innovations into commercial products through the technology transfer process. This is particularly the case in healthcare innovations, where US has so far ranked number one in the world, but is under increasing competition from countries that seem to be picking up their efforts in innovation.  

In order to bolster innovation, universities are therefore adapting to ‘steering’ their researchers to embrace in R&D that is more translational in nature and may have better market appeal.

A mechanism most universities are implementing, in order to enable this ‘steer’ is incentivizing researchers; which is meant to motivate them to engage in translational research. Mechanisms for which are several, but may include:

  • Altering University policies – making patenting and commercialization activities by researchers and faculty count toward promotion & tenure (where applicable),
  • Providing financial rewards from royalty distribution generated from licensing of faculty’s IP,
  • Helping faculty raise sponsored research dollars from industrial partners, and
  • Assisting researchers and faculty start-up business around their own innovations.

About a decade or so ago, many researchers and faculty investigators did not understand the significance of the knowledge-centric role, and the importance of invention, disclosure and patenting process and its role in technology commercialization. Universities, therefore, in conjunction with incentivizing their researchers, made it their mission to educate their researchers and dispel any misconceptions through outreach efforts within campus.

A common myth, for instance, that existed among many researchers was that filing for a patent would preclude them from publishing the same work in a scientific journal! Conversely, the belief was also that if a researcher had already published their invention ahead of filing a patent application, they could never get a patent for their invention. Another misunderstanding was that once a technology is given (licensed) to a company for commercialization, the researcher would be precluded from doing further research on the subject.

The reality is that none of these situations is true!

These programs have motivated researchers, who have shied away from commercialization of their innovation in the past, to file invention disclosures to the technology transfer offices and work with them to commercialize their innovation. The response has been positive so far.

In my technology transfer office in particular, the quantity and quality of invention disclosures are on the rise. We have also seen an all-time high in faculty startups last year, several of which are in the medical & healthcare sector …. Truly heartening!

We hope that the trend continues and University research communities promote and capitalize on their innovations to transform them into products that benefit humanity!

Let’s meet Joy Goswami, the author

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Joy Goswami

Assistant Director, Technology Transfer & Corporate Partnerships, University of Delaware, USA AUTM – Cabinet Member (Financial Management Portfolio Chair)

+1-302-831-3547 (O); +1-302-650-9710 (C)

Joy is the Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships, where he oversees and manages technology transfer activities and corporate partnerships for the University of Delaware. Among his other roles, Joy is actively involved in managing intellectual property, assisting in establishing start-up and spin-off companies and bringing forth university-industry collaborations & partnerships. He has more than twenty years of experience in the field of business development and a career that has produced highly regarded commercialization strategies and outreach practices of novel technologies in engineering, biotechnology, agriculture and bio-medical sector.  

Joy is a Registered Patent Agent for the US Patent & Trademark Office. He is also a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR/STTR) reviewer for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a Howard Bremer Scholar. Joy earned his Bachelor’s and Master of Science in Biology from Delhi University, and his MBA from the Herberger’s College of Business, St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA.  He earned his Registration as a Technology Transfer Professional (RTTP) from the Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals. Joy servers in the Cabinet of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).

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