Perspective: Socially Responsible Licensing, Euclidean Innovation, and the Valley of Death
Stanford Journal of Law, Science and Policy, 2011
16 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 15, 2011
This paper reviews perspectives gained through UC Berkeley’s Socially Responsible IP Management and Licensing Program (“SRLP”) program, which promotes solutions to critical needs in the developing world, including by stimulating outside investments, to maximize the societal benefits of UC Berkeley research. Addressing such challenges requires capitalizing on opportunities to mobilize the right resources and players, at appropriate times and in practicable ways, toward shared goals. Our key starting principles: effective collaborations and other forms of multi-party cooperation must build on and preserve appropriate incentives and outcomes for each participant; creative and adaptive collaboration structures often produce valuable results in faster, more iterative, and non-linear ways than traditional models of technology transfer and licensing; and real-time sharing of data, materials and reports requires paradigm shifts on the part of collaborators, both at the institutional and academic levels.
UC Berkeley’s work with innovative IP management and collaboration models through SRLP helps bridge financial gaps to deployment of new technologies, with socially- and environmentally-desirable impacts. In certain fields such gaps are particularly wide, reflecting, for example, long research and development (“R&D”) timelines, substantial required investments, and regulatory hurdles prior to commercialization. Crossing such “Valleys of Death” requires creatively and carefully combining inputs, outputs, components, and participants.
Multi-party alliances and collaborations can lower future transaction costs and other barriers to transactions that ultimately catalyze commercial outcomes. By crafting solutions to problems in novel ways, with the university as a continuing player, we are building a repository of tools and methodologies with respect to IP rights, goals, incentives, and rewards. Clearly, there are no universal, one-size-fits-all approaches to structuring such innovative collaborations. But reviewing a subset of deal structures and IP management strategies from SRLP’s experience may provide useful general insights and models for future use. Strategies that allow the university to stay involved longer into the translational and applied research space, without compromising its mission and goals, have relevance to several research fields and industries. Thus, the creation, analysis, and improvement of such “model pathways” helps not only to attract and advance high impact projects, but also to inform broader discussions on paths forward to address pressing global challenges.
Technology research, development, and commercial deployment are typically depicted in linear sequence, along the following lines:
discovery → development → translation,
with the attendant categories of:
basic research → applied research → commercial R&D → commercial deployment.
Traversing funding gaps requires dispelling the notion that innovation follows a linear road. We find that productive research and development collaborations often take place both in sequence and in parallel, and with robust feedback mechanisms integral to both design and practice –– more of a series of U-turns, switch backs, forked paths and potholes to be navigated simultaneously by several drivers. Our work charting out model pathways for multi-party business models and corresponding IP management strategies often evokes higher-order geometric shapes. Thus, one of us whimsically uses the term “Euclidean innovation” to help envision ways of creatively designing collaborations and transaction structures. At the intersection of science, law, business, politics, and international diplomacy, solutions of every shape and size are needed.
Keywords: IP management strategies, Socially responsible licensing, social impact, innovation, Euclidean innovation, valley of death, non-linear innovation, public private partnerships, product development partnerships, access to medicine, humanitarian licensing, patent pools, creative capitalism
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