Monday, July 10, 2017

Having clear and up-to-date protocols and policies around intellectual property (IP) is critically important for moving discovery at the University of Iowa forward. It ensures that inventions by faculty and staff are clearly identified, adequately protected, and leveraged in a way that benefits the inventor, the university, and the public—should the IP eventually translate into a commercial product, service, or company.


That’s why Dan Reed, UI Vice President for Research and Economic Development, said he’s pleased that the university recently completed Part 1 of a two-part university IP policy revision process. Reed said the effort has been undertaken with broad consultation across campus, including the Staff Council, and final approval of the Faculty Senate.


Among other things, this process involved ensuring that the policy—last updated in 2005—was compatible with case law and Supreme Court rulings. The university also updated language around copyrights.


“Perhaps of most interest to faculty, the revisions make the policy friendlier toward UI employees who want to engage in consulting work,” Reed said.


The next step, he said, will involve revising the UI’s reimbursement policy, details of which he said will be shared soon.


“We will continue to engage in broad consultation across campus as we update our policies and practices,” he said. “Faculty and staff voices are critically important in this process, because in the end these policies are meant to protect and support you as well as the institution.”


The IP revisions are part of a broader effort by the university to streamline and accelerate the process of turning ideas into new technologies, medical treatments, and industrial applications. 


“Hand in glove with these efforts, we’re hoping to see the state of Iowa encourage more early-stage risk capital and investment to help move promising ideas out into the marketplace sooner – and keep inventors in the state longer,” Reed said. “This might involve changing tax policy or creating other incentives. Stay tuned, as we work with the Iowa Innovation Council.”


Meanwhile, OVPR&ED recently helped launch a trio of resources to support early-stage business incubation, innovation, and product development.


Protostudios is a state-of-the-art, rapid prototyping facility located in part in the UI’s Van Allen Hall, and in part in MERGE, a new co-working space and innovation hub in downtown Iowa City managed by the Iowa City Area Development Group in space made available by the City of Iowa City.


The third resource, the Translational Research Incubator, provides “wet lab” space in the UI’s Medical Laboratories building for up to four faculty to work on reaching critical milestones that lead toward commercialization. Providing space separate from academic areas allows entrepreneurs to move back and forth between their lab and startup company without violating rules.


“As a large, public Research One university, we’ve always been committed to exploring ways to translate discoveries by our researchers and scholars into real-world solutions,” Reed said. “But these efforts take on fresh urgency with the funding challenges facing us at the state and federal level. As I’ve said many times before, though, it’s always darkest before the light, and I have every confidence that in spite—and perhaps because—of these difficult times, we’ll emerge stronger, more resilient, and more capable of expanding human knowledge and sharing our discoveries with Iowa and the world.”


The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development provides resources and support to researchers and scholars at the University of Iowa and to businesses across Iowa with the goal of forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that benefits the campus, the state, and the world. More at, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover