During their early existence, universities served mainly as disseminators of knowledge, teaching students with less focus on developing new knowledge on their own. In the nineteenth century, universities began creating knowledge through research, which was funded largely by federal grants. The passage of the Bayh–Dole Act in 1980 signaled a paradigm shift in the role of universities vis-à-vis society. Armed with the rights given to research institutions by Bayh–Dole, universities began commercializing knowledge by patenting inventions created in their labs and actively marketing them to industry partners. Today's universities are expected to be entrepreneurial, to conduct research with real-world applications, and to network to industry partners that can help them bring technology to market.

Congress passed the Bayh–Dole Act of 1980 to (a) promote the dissemination and commercial development of inventions arising from government-sponsored research at universities and (b) foster greater collaboration between universities and industry. Prior to passage of the Bayh–Dole Act, the U.S. government owned inventions made with federal research funding, which also meant that the federal government was responsible for patenting and licensing these inventions. By the 1970s, the government had accumulated some 30,000 patents, of which only about 5 percent had been licensed. Negotiating a license with the federal government was an onerous undertaking because the federal ...

Get How to Invent and Protect Your Invention: A Guide to Patents for Scientists and Engineers now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.