The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) has reportedly announced that university start ups and licensing activity were unaffected at the height of the recession in 2009.AUTM’s fiscal year (FY) 2009 survey found that 569 new companies were formed as a result of university research, one more than those created in FY 2008. While licensing revenue reportedly declined 32.5 percent, AUTM apparently attributed the drop to extraordinary partial royalty buyouts in 2007 and 2008 that were not repeated in 2009. The number of licenses apparently increased 5.6 percent in FY 2009. According to AUTM President Ashley Stevens, the survey results reveal “that universities were able to maintain their level of start-up company creation [in 2009],” and noted, “[t]he majority of these start-ups are located in the licensing institution’s home state . . . further proof that the Bayh-Dole Act continues to have a positive impact on local economies.” See PatentDocs.org, October 7, 2010.
In a related development, the National Research Council reports that the Bayh-Dole Act, which changed the law to allow universities to retain ownership of intellectual property developed under grants from federal agencies, has effectively made research advances publicly available and spurred innovation. Before the law was enacted in 1980, the government owned the intellectual property it funded and could license it to companies for use in new products and services. According to the report, very little federally funded research was commercialized. Since 1980, however, patenting and licensing activity has apparently accelerated. Still, the report recommends improving the current system by standardizing licensing contracts, creating independent oversight of relationships between faculty and university technology transfer offices and developing mechanisms for resolving disputes when faculty believe their inventions are being ignored or mishandled. See National Academies Press Release, October 4, 2010.