Linking Ideas & Innovation

Archive for the 'Standards' Category

Science Commons in Popular Science!

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Congratulations to our friends over at Science Commons who have been written up in Popular Science magazine this week! I love hearing John Wilbanks talk about why it should be easier to share and find scientific information even if you aren’t immersed in that particular field. If you have never heard or read anything from him, I would suggest for you to read the article.

As you may know, the iBridge Network is working with Science Commons on their Material Transfer Agreement project which provides a wide array of standardized licenses including the Uniform Biological Materials Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) and the Simple Letter Agreement (SLA) in addition to several standard ones developed by Science Commons. Standardized licensing of research materials happens today, though it may not be as common as one would think. We are expecting with the additional of several other standardized licenses, and the ease of specifying them (through Science Commons tools), and ease of attaching these licenses to research descriptions in the iBridge Network will help fuel use of standardized agreements for more situations.

We are expecting to have standardized licensing up on our site by the end of the summer and already have a couple of our university members who are planning to participate as early adopters! We’ll keep you posted!

Howard Hughes Medical Institute: A Standard for Openness

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

I was just reading the president’s letter from the May 2007 edition of the HHMI Bulletin published by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In it, Thomas Cech summarizes the conclusions of a National Research Council committee in which he chaired in 2003. The committee was charged with taking a fresh look at the responsibilities of scientists to share the data and materials referenced in original research articles. They developed a concept that they called UPSIDE which stands for the Uniform Principle for Sharing Integral Data and Materials Expeditiously.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute has long required their investigators to share their published research materials to the extent possible. In fact, their policy on sharing these materials is transparent and broad. Their policy states that they will share materials within 60 days from request, which includes the negotiation of a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). It contains specific terms for materials, data & databases, and software. It also clearly states the responsibilities of those requesting these materials, all of which seem reasonable to me.

While I haven’t read many statements by research institutes on their policy for sharing materials, given the way that I often hear MTAs discussed I suspect that not many research institutes require their investigators to share. Yes, it can be a burden to prepare, list and license materials, though with new tools like the iBridge Network, the Science Commons MTA standardization and others this burden is becoming lighter every day.

Nobelist Max Perutz has noted that, “True science thrives best in glass houses, where everyone can look in.” True science also benefits when research articles and materials are freely available after publication. Given the huge benefit to science and future discoveries, I hope that the recent successes by iBridge members in sharing materials in a low-transaction cost manner are just the tip of the iceberg in helping to fuel future innovation and discovery.

I welcome your comments on the subject of openness:

Supremes Strike a Blow Against Patent Holders

Friday, May 4th, 2007

There’s little doubt the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision earlier this week on the issue of patent rights was momentous. If you missed the story (it didn’t seem to get a whole lot of front-page coverage), the Supremes handed down a decision that may make it harder to get a patent as well as defend one.

The crux of the issue is whether an idea submitted for patenting passes the “obviousness” test. The court, more or less, ruled on the side of mandating that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office be more willing to deny patent protection to something that’s less a true innovation and more an ordinary, incremental advance.

For a completely substantive review of this issue, here’s a link to The Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog, which offers a detailed post on this topic. Look for links to the actual opinion, major news stories, and to various expert legal reviews of the decision.

Peer to Patent Invitation: Beta Test of Online System

Friday, April 20th, 2007

The Community Patent Review (CPR) Peer to Patent Project, an initiative of the Institute for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School, is inviting people involved in the law and technology world to participate in an important product beta-test.

The product, developed in conjunction with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is an online platform designed to open some patent applications for public-expert (“peer”) review. The followup aim is to help patent examiners make better (possibly faster) decisions on granting patents.

For more detailed information on the mechanics of all this, check out this Washington Post article from last March.

In regard to the beta-testing, it’s by invitation only. Send an email asap if you’re interested in participating to

Once you’re accepted as a beta tester, you’ll receive a login and password to access the beta site. Beta testers will be asked to review every nook and cranny of the site. And time is tight for this stage of the project. Testing period runs through the end of this month. Launch is scheduled for June 1.

You also can pre-register to be a community patent reviewer in advance of the June 1 launch. 

New Report on Commercializing Research

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Question for the day: how many federal dollars currently flow to U.S. colleges and universities for science and engineering research? The answer is $29 billion — up nicely from $17.5 billion in 2000, according to data from the National Science Foundation.

So you might presume the American people would want a solid ROI for all of this public investment in basic research. But how do you fairly define what this ROI is? Is it about university licensing revenues, companies formed, numbers of patents? Or is it also about ensuring a fast and fluid flow to the public of broad “knowledge diffusion” (such as networks, research tools, new equipment) along with breakthrough inventions? 

These questions, more or less, are at the heart of a new report from the Kauffman Foundation, Commercializing University Innovations: A Better Way. In a nutshell, this report argues that university innovation can be moved to the market faster if university tech transfer offices shift their program emphases from licensing/revenue to a “volume model” (based on quantity of innovations moved out the door).

The report offers four ways (or perhaps some combination thereof) this dynamic could happen: free agency among faculty, regional alliances among schools, Internet-based approaches (such as iBridge Network), and faculty loyalty (e.g., giving back via donations to the institution). 

Along this line, The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) offers balanced coverage of the report, including some substantive feedback from officials at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Leading Universities Release Tech Transfer “White Paper”

Friday, March 9th, 2007

As the AUTM 2007 Annual Meeting roars along through this weekend in San Francisco, a new white paper simultaneously has been released that should be of interest to all involved in technology research and commercialization.

The paper is titled In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology, and was authored by a collection of technology transfer directors at some of the U.S.’s leading reseach universities (including Cal Tech, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford).

For a good overview of what’s contained in this report, take a look at this week’s SSTI Weekly Digest. Among the report’s contents, according to SSTI, is a nine-point set of principles for how university technology licensing should be undertaken today, and includes recommendations such as “(e)xclusive licenses should be structured in a manner that encourages technology development and use.” 

Designing CyberInfrastructure Conference

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Designing CyberInfrastructure Conference, at the National Academies in Washington DC.  There I saw how and where the iBridge Network fits into the building of the nation’s cyber infrastructure (CI).

From Peter Freeman, of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Stuart Feldman of IBM to Brett Frischman of the Loyala School of Law at the University of Chicago to Steve Jackson of the University of Michigan, the support for a strong cyber infrastructure in this country is undeniable. The energy at the conference was exciting and made me think more about how the iBridge Network fits into this CI world.
With the iBridge Network there is now a new gateway for industry and entrepreneurs to engage in conversations about how policy, legal, and usage possibilities affect the CI design and the need to involve all the stakeholders in the design process.  This involvement helps build a stronger, more powerful gateway.

NSF hopes that CI will serve as an agent for broadening participation and strengthening the nation’s workforce in science and engineering. To enable this, NSF’s goal is to provide a CI that is secure, efficient, reliable, accessible, usable, and interoperable that will evolve into an essential part of conducting science and engineering research  The iBridge Network already supports this goal by making technologies and innovations are available for license and use to researchers, entrepreneurs, and industry.

I was amazed to see that the Network is also supporting one of the recommendations of the National Innovation Initiative Report on Intellectual Property. The report discusses the need to facilitate long-term technology transfer relationships between universities and industry, a founding principle of the iBridge Network.  Additionally, the iBridge Network provides unrestricted access through its one-stop shop e-commerce capabilities that allow users to search, browse technologies, contact researchers, and license the technologies, thereby supporting the CI tenant of lowering transaction costs and increasing opportunity for free exchange.

Overall, I couldn’t believe all the synergies between the iBridge Network and the CI that is being built now and into the future. Talk about good timing for the launching of the Network!


William Garner, M.D., MPH – CEO of Urigen, N.A., Inc.

"The iBridge Network provides an important additional pathway for entrepreneurs to access university innovations that may otherwise have been lost.  read more...