Report on Supporting and Advancing Tech Transfer - AUTM EDI Outreach Committee

This report is a synthesis of the committee’s work in its charge to promote AUTM’s mission of supporting and advancing technology transfer. Specifically, the Education (O & E) subgroup focused on specific deliverable which directs the subgroup to create a plan for the Board to endorse on how to work with third parties to improve technology transfer outcomes at historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in the United States, and identify funding mechanisms to assist.

The O & E strategic plan specifically concentrates on creating partnerships with HBCU’s and other MSI’s, government entities and industry associations and leveraging those partnerships to improve technology transfer outcomes.

The O & E subgroup worked collaboratively throughout the process to understand how relationships are developed with HBCUs and MSIs. Through a series of discussions about current conditions of HBCUs and MSIs that included research findings, needs analysis and openness to partnership the committee was able to pinpoint potential points of entry.

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To understand the state of HBCUs and find entry points the committee looked at current research and articles to understand the needs of HBCUs. The article in the op-ed section of the NY Times entitled “HBCUs Sink or Swim moment” detailed the dire straits of some HBCUs. The article chronicles the decline in student enrollment, challenges to funding, lack of facilities and more importantly a need to rebrand the institutions. The article although not directly related to our work clearly established a need for organizations such as ours to engage with HBCUs.

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The group also studied the Framework for the Development of a Federal HBCU Competitiveness Strategy, published in response to the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The framework was designed to help HBCUs successfully compete for public and private investments to meet the needs of students and promote community prosperity. The Framework has the intentional purpose of assisting HBCUS that have specialized research, technology transfer, and commercialization capacities, faculty expertise to expand the reach of HBCUs and the contributions that HBCUs make to national competitiveness. Further, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Treasury, and other government agencies have established initiatives to improve HBCUs access to Federal Investment opportunities including contract and discretionary grants. There are funds allotted for programs that create intellectual property that solves national problems, support economic growth and generate revenue for the campus. The framework aligns perfectly with specific deliverable.

Focusing on the specific deliverable and the needs analysis and opportunities presented at HBCUs and MSIs a we looked at three pronged approach which include HBCU engagement opportunities, Government and Industry partnerships and Funding sources.
HBCU Engagement
The subgroup spent a great deal of time discovering how to effectively engage with the HBCUs. Traditional HBCUs have been primarily teaching oriented. A paradigm shift is currently underway where the schools are moving towards programs that are more researched focused. The group recognized the barriers that exist in engaging with the institutions such as university officials who do not promote tech transfer, faculty challenges ,and facilities. The subgroup is confident that those barriers can be overcome.

The subgroup identified schools that have Tech Transfer Offices (TTO) already established. There are TTO’s in Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Kentucky. The subgroup has established entry pathways into some of the institutions. Kentucky’s C3 initiative brings shared tech transfer services statewide to all schools in the state and significant discussions have taken place to leverage that entry point. Kentucky has two HBCUs, Kentucky State University and Simmons College of Kentucky. We have also started the discussions about Florida and Louisiana schools which offer unique opportunities because of the increased emphasis on tech transfer in these states and willingness of the associated HBCUs to participate. The subgroup has also considered outreach efforts that include attending regional conferences, visiting the universities directly, and hosting events such as symposiums that promote the mission of AUTM and specific deliverable. We are also addressing entry points into HBCUs conferences where we can present.

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities provides excellent opportunities for tech transfer. The committee thoroughly examined the document and are currently developing plans to help provide guidance to the HBCUs and MSIs. The committee is also looking at avenues to directly connect government agencies to specific institutions. The committee also has established several industry partners that would be able to provide guidance and assistance to HBCUs wishing to increase tech transfer. Some of the partners that have been discussed include the University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP), National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education Implementing (NCORE), Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) and National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NASEM).

The subgroup made contacts with American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and the American Bar Association to develop a partnership to participate in the effort. We are also focusing on companies that focus on licensing, specifically mid-size companies that can serve as strategic partners. We are also considering how to bring non-HBCUs with TTOs and HBCUs together to serve as “sister” schools in the area of tech transfer. This would provide guidance and assistant in all areas.

Again, the Framework for the Development of a Federal HBCU Competitiveness Strategy proved to be a valuable document for the subgroup. The framework adopts an inclusive definition of investment, both financial (grant-making, contracting and cooperative agreements) and nonfinancial investments (partnerships with public and private internships, work-based learning, etc.). The subgroup has started dialogue with several HBCUs to assist with ways and means of tapping into the funds allocated through the Framework.

The subgroup also has been in discussion with Allied Bank, The United Negro College Fund, Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund and several law firms to assist in the procurement of funds and scholarship opportunities. We reviewed the IDeA 23 State grants four new grants have been added to move scientific discoveries and technologies out of the lab and into commercial products that improve patient care and enhance human health. This seems like a natural fit for HBCUs such as Howard University with established research programs. We are working with the Patent Training Foundation to provide opportunities for HBCU law students to participate as interns with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

The truth of the matter is that HBCUs have lagged behind in the area of tech transfer. The goal of the committee is to bridge the gap by providing partnerships that provide training in multiple areas including grant writing, facility makeup, faculty training and funding. We believe that building relationships with the HBCUs and MSIs and providing resource avenues will build strong successful programs that highlight the strength of the HBCUs and produce intellectual and scientific products that have global reach.

Updated: May 03, 2023
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Report on Supporting and Advancing Tech Transfer - AUTM EDI Outreach Committee. (2022, Mar 26). Retrieved from

Report on Supporting and Advancing Tech Transfer - AUTM EDI Outreach Committee essay
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