Yesterday, the National Economic Council in the White House put out an announcement Request for Information on Commercialization of University Research. As part of the earlier announced Obama innovation strategy:
the Administration is interested in working with all stakeholders (including universities, companies, Federal research labs, entrepreneurs, investors, and non-profits) to identify ways in which we can increase the economic impact of Federal investment in university R&D and the innovations being fostered in Federal and private proof of concept centers (POCCs). This RFI is designed to collect input from the public on ideas for promoting the commercialization of Federally funded research. The first section of the RFI seeks public comments on how best to encourage commercialization of university research. The second section of the RFI seeks public comments on whether POCCs can be a means of stimulating the commercialization of early-stage technologies by bridging the “valley of death.”
The Request for Information asks the following specific questions:
Part I: With Respect to University Research, Promising Practices and Successful Models
What are some promising practices and successful models for fostering commercialization and diffusion of university research? What is the evidence that these approaches are successful? How could these promising practices be more widely adopted? Examples include, but are not limited to:
Business plan competitions
Coursework, training programs, and experiential learning that give faculty and students the skills they need to become entrepreneurs
Programs that encourage multidisciplinary collaboration between faculty and students in different disciplines, such as science, engineering, business, and medicine
Technology transfer and sponsored project offices that can negotiate agreements with companies in a timely fashion, and that have a mandate to maximize the impact of their university’s research as opposed to maximizing licensing income
“Templates” for agreements on issues such as intellectual property, sponsored research, material transfer agreements, and visiting industry fellows that can reduce the time and cost required to commercialize university research and form university-industry partnerships
Models for promoting open innovation and an intellectual property “commons”
University-industry collaborations that increase investment in pre-competitive research and development that is beyond the time horizon of any single firm
University participation in regional economic development initiatives and efforts to strengthen “clusters”
Supportive university policies such as “industrial leave” that allows faculty members to work for a new or existing company to commercialize their research
Bootstrapping Innovation Ecosystems
Some universities participate in regional innovation “ecosystems” with dense concentrations of venture and angel investors, experienced entrepreneurs and managers, and a mix of large and small firms. These universities also have faculty who have been involved in commercialization of research and entrepreneurship, and can serve as mentors and role models to faculty or students. How can universities and their external partners expand their ability to commercialize research in the absence of these favorable conditions?
Metrics for Success
What are appropriate metrics for evaluating the success or failure of initiatives to promote commercialization of university research?
Changes in Public Policy and Funding
What changes in public policy and research funding should the Obama Administration consider that would promote commercialization of university research? How could existing programs be modified or augmented to encourage commercialization of university research?
Part II: With Respect to POCCs
Underlying Conditions and Infrastructure
What underlying conditions are necessary to enhance the success of a POCC?
[cir] How can regions with less significant angel and VC investment cultures support POCCs and start-up business activity? Can current POCC successes transfer to other regions and universities?
[cir] How important is active participation by strong local business community in a POCC? Describe how you integrate them into the POCC ecosystem?
How can Federal agencies, research institutions, Federal researchers, and the private sector work together to foster more successful POCCs that accelerate commercialization into the marketplace?
How can we leverage NSF’s and industry’s investment in Engineering Research Centers and Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers to speed the development and commercialization of new technology that has already reached the proof-of-concept stage?
In addition to Federal resources, what existing state, regional or local government funded resources or programs supplement the POCCs in bridging the “valley of death”?
[cir] Describe any alternative sources of private funding/financing that might be available such as not for profit entities or charitable foundations.
What are examples of successful practices?
What are the key ingredients responsible for this success?
Is there any evidence that indicates POCCs are an effective mechanism to foster local or regional economic development and job creation (e.g. research related to the needs of particular clusters, participating in regional networks, making shared facilities available to local firms, addressing the need for skilled labor in particular sectors)?
What lessons can be learned from other successful models such as technology-based economic development organizations that support POCCs?
Describe educational programs associated with POCCs that better prepare students to work in entrepreneurial environments?
To what extent do interdisciplinary services (legal, accounting, business plan training) contribute to POCCs successes?
At POCCs, what lessons have been learned regarding:
Leadership and team composition, project selection, optimum scale of effort, importance of brick-and-mortar facilities, geographic scope of participation, and multi-agency involvement?
How do you define the success of a POCC?
[cir] What are the relevant inputs, outputs, outcomes, and impacts for success metrics?
[cir] What is the time period needed to measure success as applied
to different types of technologies?
Would the appropriate success metrics for a POCC affiliated with a university be different than one affiliated with a Federal research lab?
For those institutions with POCCs, how would you describe what you do and how you do it?
How can research and development assets supported by the Federal Government be leveraged to support POCCs, such as a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary database of supported research?
How could such assistance also bolster State and local government programs?
What other administrative policies/practices should the Administration consider modifying, adopting or implementing to enhance the success prospects of POCCs, including streamlining reporting requirements?
Responses are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 26, 2010. According to the announcement:
Responses to this RFI must be delivered electronically as an attachment to an e-mail sent to NEC_General@who.eop.gov with the subject line “Commercialization of University Research.”