University of Glasgow Decides to Give Away Its Research to Those Who Can Use It Best
|Taken by David Iliff|
Over 30 years ago, the Bayh-Dole Act was seen as a surefire way to increase research and development in the US. By enabling universities to retain the titles to their federally-funded research, Congress hoped that universities would be more inclined to advance science and file patents. After filing for the patents, the universities should have licensed their research to anyone and everyone, thus facilitating faster commercialization and eventually benefiting the public in a much more effective way than any federal lab could. Studies have shown though, that in these 30 years, the research is not getting out to the public any faster. How do we get the research, patents, and simple scientific improvements out to the people faster? Do as the University of Glasgow plans to do and simply give the research away.
On the 25th of November, the University of Glasgow dropped the good-deed bombshell of the year by announcing that they will offer their intellectual property to businesses and entrepreneurs free of charge. Much of the research that the University has been developing in recent years will be available to anyone who thinks they can make the best use of it. All you have to do is go to the University’s Easy Access IP website and start browsing. University Principal Anton Muscatelli hopes that by transferring as much intellectual property into commercial uses as possible, the companies of the United Kingdom will be able to compete with the large research and development firms of the world.
So what is being offered for free? There is a microchip-less “smart” label for protecting branded items. The technology encodes a spectral fingerprint on an inexpensive piece of metal that remains hidden unless a simple reading device is used. There is also something called a “Telomerase Promoter”, which improves suicide-gene therapy for cancer treatment. This kind of therapy attempts to exclusively target cancerous cells in the body without harming the normal cells. Or perhaps you work for a small internet startup and you have some great ideas for web-based video? Then maybe you can use the video retrieval system that automatically captures daily news broadcasts and edits the broadcast according to the user’s interests. These are just a few of the pieces of technology available to hungry entrepreneurs and businesses thanks to the University of Glasgow.
It is very refreshing to see a world-class institution take such a step and, with any luck, this will hopefully encourage other universities to do the same. What could be incredibly interesting is to see what two different businesses do with the same piece of research. Ideally they would both come up with their own novel and provocative uses for the technology, but it could just as easily become a race to develop the same product. That might not necessarily be a bad thing, but such an announcement of free dissemination of knowledge does make one giddy about all the possibilities. In any event though, kudos to the University of Glasgow for taking such a step towards furthering human progress by sharing knowledge with the world.