University of Virginia officials have introduced new programs designed to enhance the activities of the University's researchers and entrepreneurs and maximize the impact of innovative U.Va. discoveries on the global population and economy.
"America's future depends on our capability to produce new basic knowledge and to develop solutions to major global challenges," Thomas C. Skalak, vice president for research, said.
"Innovation is the only way to build a strong economic future, and U.Va.'s innovation programs are setting a national example through their return on investment for all partners," he added, citing U.Va.'s role in shaping two Congressional bills aimed at enhancing U.S. innovation. "U.Va. is committed to working as a partner with communities, corporate ventures and government bodies to improve the quality of life in this nation and around the world."
U.Va. Innovation, a new University-wide initiative led by W. Mark Crowell, executive director of U.Va. Innovation and associate vice president for research, will build on the University's success in this area by providing guidance and services supporting strategic partnerships, entrepreneurial networks, new ventures and technology commercialization.
"Innovation is not a 'one-size-fits-all' business, so it was important for U.Va. to broaden its view of the innovation landscape and the roles our faculty, staff and students play in bringing about new knowledge and discoveries," Crowell said.
"The new model for U.Va. Innovation accelerates successful technology commercialization, giving us the freedom to support projects that may not follow traditional paths and the flexibility to conduct successful partnerships with leading industry and other organizations."
As part of the new model, U.Va. and the Patent Foundation – which will begin operating as the University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group – defined a new business and financial arrangement in an agreement that became effective July 1. As its new name suggests, the Licensing & Ventures Group will emphasize the commercialization of University technologies through licenses with industry and other entities and through start-up companies, a mission Crowell said reflects the University's vision for innovation.
U.Va. has also introduced a new formula for distributing income resulting from inventions and other projects that generate commercial revenue.
Crowell and Michael P. Straightiff, director of the Licensing & Ventures Group, debuted the new revenue distribution formula Nov. 17 in a presentation to U.Va. inventors and others involved in the local innovation community. The new formula addresses issues raised by more than 400 University researchers who participated in a survey conducted last spring, Straightiff said, by providing distributions based on a flat scale and including distributions to departments.
"You spoke, and we listened," Straightiff told the innovation community. "The new formula recognizes departments' investment of resources in our inventors and their research, and it provides greater incentive to inventive researchers and their department chairs. The new formula also reflects a desire to simplify the process and make technology commercialization more accessible to our researchers and their external partners."
The new formula, summarized below, is being applied to all revenue earned on inventions – including software and other copyrighted material – beginning July 1, 2011.
Innovation Revenue Distribution Formula
University of Virginia
10% Inventors' Research Support
10% Inventors' Departments
10% Inventors' Schools
35% U.Va. Innovation & Scholarly Activities Fund
For additional information, including details on the distribution of equity proceeds and other special provisions, click here (Word doc).
The University will use a transition period to assist researchers in adapting to the new formula, Crowell said. As part of this transition, inventors whose inventions earn revenues during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, will receive the greater of the inventors' share under the new or previous formula.
"U.Va. researchers and entrepreneurs have responded with high enthusiasm to this new structure as constituting an important shift for the institution in terms of promoting innovation and enterprise at every level of the University," Crowell said, adding, "There's never been a better time for members of the U.Va. community to get involved."