SUMMARY: In September 2009, President Obama released his national innovation strategy, which is designed to promote sustainable growth and the creation of quality jobs. Two key parts of this strategy are to increase support for both the fundamental research at our nation's universities and the effective commercialization of promising technologies.
The Federal government supports university-based research for a variety of reasons. Expanding the frontiers of human knowledge is a worthy objective in its own right. Basic research that is not motivated by any particular application can have a transformative impact. As President Obama noted in his National Academy speech, ``It was basic research in the photoelectric field that would one day lead to solar panels. It was basic research in physics that would eventually produce the CAT scan. The calculations of today's GPS satellites are based on the equations that Einstein put to paper more than a century ago.''
Yet it is often transferring viable research discoveries to the marketplace that can pose the greatest challenge to innovators and entrepreneurs. As a result, the Administration is interested in working with all stakeholders (including universities, companies, Federal research labs, entrepreneurs, investors, and non-profits) to identify ways in which we can increase the economic impact of Federal investment in university R&D and the innovations being fostered in Federal and private proof of concept centers (POCCs). This RFI is designed to collect input from the public on ideas for promoting the commercialization of Federally funded research. The first section of the RFI seeks public comments on how best to encourage commercialization of university research. The second section of the RFI seeks public comments on whether POCCs can be a means of stimulating the commercialization of early-stage technologies by bridging the ``valley of death.''
Background: Federally-funded research has contributed to economic growth, job creation and improvements in our quality of life. In the information and communications sector, for example, university-based research has played a key role in the development of technologies such as the Internet, electronic design automation, mass storage, speech recognition, parallel computing, computer graphics, and workstations. In the life sciences, university research has led to new tools to diagnose, prevent and treat diseases.