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ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

Volume 18, Number 4

THE CONFERENCE ISSUE “Building on Foundations of Innovation”

History of the NAI


Technology Transfer


University Seed Capital


EDITORS-IN-CHIEF PAUL R. SANBERG University of South Florida Tampa, FL

ERIC R. FOSSUM Dartmouth College Hanover, NH

SENIOR EDITORS HOWARD J. FEDEROFF University of California, Irvine Irvine, CA

NASSER ARSHADI University of Missouri – Saint Louis St. Louis, MO

EDITORIAL STAFF Judy Lowry, Managing Editor

Kimberly Macuare, Assistant Editor

EDITORIAL BOARD Shantikumar Nair, Amrita University, India

Steven J. Kubisen, The George Washington University

Sethuraman Panchanathan, Arizona State University

Jarett Rieger, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

David Winwood, Association of University Technology Managers

Christopher Fasel, Idaho State University

Jay Gogue, Auburn University

Sharon Heise, Institute for Human & Machine Cognition

Rivka Carmi, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Cama McNamara, Inventor’s Digest

Ernest B. Izevbigie, Benson Idahosa University, Nigeria

Ken S. Lee, Jackson State University

Mark Rudin, Boise State University

Christy Wyskiel, Johns Hopkins University

Gloria Waters, Boston University

Solomon H. Snyder, Johns Hopkins University

Farnam Jahanian, Carnegie Mellon University

Mary Rezac, Kansas State University

Joseph Jankowski, Case Western Reserve University

Norman R. Augustine, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Shinn-Zong (John) Lin, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital

Kalliat T. Valsaraj, Louisiana State University

Todd Headley, Colorado State University

Richard Kordal, Louisiana Tech University

Scot Hamilton, Columbia University

Robert S. Langer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alice Li, Cornell University

Rebecca Mahurin, Montana State University

Donna M. DeCarolis, Drexel University

Vimal Chaitanya, New Mexico State University

Marti Van Scott, East Carolina University

Kurt H. Becker, New York University

Todd Sherer, Emory University

Gerald Blazey, Northern Illinois University

Daniel C. Flynn, Florida Atlantic University

James G. Conley, Northwestern University

Tachung (T.C.) Yih, Florida Gulf Coast University

Arlene A. Garrison, Oak Ridge Associated Universities

Tristan J. Fiedler, Florida Institute of Technology

Lonnie G. Thompson, The Ohio State University

Andres G. Gil, Florida International University

John J. Kopchick, Ohio University

Lawrence O. Gostin, Georgetown University Law Center

Steven Price, Oklahoma State University

Neil A. Sharkey, The Pennsylvania State University

Derek E. Eberhart, University of Georgia

Curtis R. Carlson, The Practice of Innovation

Richard C. Willson, University of Houston

Kenneth J. Blank, Rowan University

Lesley Millar-Nicholson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

S. David Kimball, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Taunya Phillips Walker, University of Kentucky

Kenneth A. Olliff, Saint Louis University

Mary Shire, University of Limerick, Ireland

Arthur Daemmrich, Smithsonian Lemelson Center

William M. Pierce, Jr., University of Louisville

Arthur J. Tipton, Southern Research Institute

Patrick O’Shea, University of Maryland

Christos Christodoulatos, Stevens Institute of Technology

Louis A. Carpino, University of Massachusetts – Amherst

Robert V. Duncan, Texas Tech University

James P. McNamara, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Stephen Klasko, Thomas Jefferson University Richard A. Houghten, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies

Kenneth J. Nisbet, University of Michigan

Woody Maggard, University at Buffalo – State University of New York

Lawrence Dreyfus, University of Missouri – Kansas City

Stephen Z. Cheng, The University of Akron Richard P. Swatloski, The University of Alabama Richard B. Marchase, The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Henry C. Foley, University of Missouri – Columbia

Steve Goddard, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Zachary Miles, The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Kumi Nagamoto-Combs, The University of North Dakota John Kantner, University of North Florida

Frederic Zenhausern, The University of Arizona

Thomas McCoy, University of North Texas

Jim Rankin, University of Arkansas

James H. Bratton, The University of Oklahoma

Linda P. B. Katehi, University of California, Davis

Lynne U. Chronister, The University of South Alabama

Tom O’Neal, University of Central Florida

Judy Genshaft, University of South Florida

Patrick A. Limbach, University of Cincinnati

Gordon C. Cannon, University of Southern Mississippi

Inge Wefes, University of Colorado – Denver/AMC

T. Taylor Eighmy, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Jeff Seemann, University of Connecticut

Cynthia M. Furse, The University of Utah

Mathew Willenbrink, University of Dayton

John Biondi, University of Wisconsin – Madison

David S. Weir, University of Delaware

H. Holden Thorp, Washington University in St. Louis

Jennifer Graban, University of Evansville

Anthony J. Vizzini, Wichita State University

David P. Norton, University of Florida

Robert E. W. Fyffe, Wright State University

Karen J.L. Burg, University of Georgia

T. Kyle Vanderlick, Yale University

National Academy of Inventors. Technology and Innovation, University of South Florida Research Park, 3702 Spectrum Boulevard, Suite 165, Tampa, FL 33612-9445 USA. Tel: +1-813-974-1347; Fax: +1-813-974-4962;; www.

PUBLISHING INFORMATION Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors (ISSN: 1949-8241) is published by the National Academy of Inventors, University of South Florida Research Park, 3702 Spectrum Boulevard, Suite 165, Tampa, F. 33612-9445 USA. Tel: +1-813-974-1347; Fax: +1-813-974-4962;; Subscriptions: Technology and Innovation (T&I) is published 4 times a year. For subscription information, please visit our website or contact Advertisement: T&I will accept advertisements. All advertisements are subject to approval by the editors. For details and rates, please contact Disclaimer: While every effort is made by the publisher, editors, and editorial board to see that no inaccurate or misleading data, opinion, or statement appears in T&I, they wish to make it clear that the data and opinions appearing in the articles and advertisements contained herein are the sole responsibility of the contributor or advertiser concerned. Therefore, the publisher, editors, editorial board, their respective employees, officers, and agents accept no responsibility or liability whatsoever for the effect of any such inaccurate or misleading opinion, data, or statement. Copyright Notice: It is a condition of publication that manuscripts submitted to this journal have not been published and will not be simultaneously submitted or published elsewhere. By submitting a manuscript, the authors agree that the copyright for their article is transferred to the publisher if and when the article is accepted for publication. However, assignment of copyright is not required from authors who work for organizations that do not permit such assignment. The copyright covers the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the article, including reprints, photographic reproductions, microform, or any other reproductions of similar nature and translations. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic type, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without permission in writing from the copyright holder. Photocopying information for users in the USA: For permission to reuse copyrighted content from T&I, please access or contact Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, telephone +1-855-239-3415 (Monday-Friday, 3 AM to 6 PM Eastern Time), fax +1-978-646-8600. Copyright Clearance Center is a not-for-profit organization that provides copyright licensing on behalf of the National Academy of Inventors. The copyright owner’s consent does not extend to copying for general distribution, for promotion, for creating new works, or for resale. Specific written permission must be obtained from the publisher for such copying. In case of doubt, please contact T&I at Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors® Printed in the USA

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Cover Photos: (1) Thomas Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ. From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 10 January 1880; (2) Elmer Gates in his lab using sorting box, undated, Elmer Gates Papers Collection. Courtesy of Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution; (3) Colt employees on the shop floor, circa 1900. Courtesy of the Connecticut State Library; (4) Inventors Agency business card, no date, Warshaw Collection of Business Americana. Courtesy of Archives Center, National Museum of American History; and, (5) Albert Latham and his son, Harold Albert Moore Latham, used these machinist tools and toolbox during their careers at the United Shoe Machinery Company during the early 20th century. Courtesy of Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Volume 18, Number 4, 2017

Pages 227-344

ISSN 1949-8241 E-ISSN 1949-825X



Highlights from the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors Kimberly A. Macuare and Steven J. Kubisen


History of the National Academy of Inventors Arthur Molella


Alternative Natural Rubber Crops: Why Should We Care? Katrina Cornish


Invention, Innovation Systems, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution Arthur Daemmrich


Invention is not an Option Yolanda L. Comedy, Juan E. Gilbert, and Suzie H. Pan


“Why” vs. “What,” or “The Bad Penny Opera”: Gender and Bias in Science Florence P. Haseltine and Mark Chodos


Fellows Keynote Address Andrew Hirshfeld


The NAI Fellow Profile: An Interview with Dr. Emery N. Brown Emery N. Brown and Kimberly A. Macuare


GENERAL SECTION Technology Transfer for All the Right Reasons James K. Woodell and Tobin L. Smith


University Seed Capital Programs: Benefits Beyond the Loan Donna L. Herber, Joelle Mendez-Hinds, Jack Miner, Marc C. Sedam, Kevin Wozniak, Valerie Landrio McDevitt, and Paul R. Sanberg


America’s Seed Fund: How the SBIR/STTR Programs Help Enable Catalytic Growth and Technological Advances G. Nagesh Rao, John R. Williams, Mark Walsh, and James Moore Thoughts on Improving Innovation: What Are the Characteristics of Innovation and How Do We Cultivate Them? Victor Poirier, Lyle H. Schwartz, David Eddy, Richard Berman, Selim Chacour, James J. Wynne, William Cavanaugh, Dean F. Martin, Robert Byrne, and Paul R. Sanberg



Finding and Preparing Teachers to Meet the Needs of U.S. Student Innovators-in-the-Making Paul Swamidass and Christine Schnittka


T&I Book Review Dean F. Martin


Aims and Scopes


Preparation of Manuscripts


Ethics Statement


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Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 227-228, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.


Technology Commercialization Office, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA 2 Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA

This year’s National Academy of Inventors conference was a milestone, marking the fifth annual meeting of our Academy. The occasion was indeed memorable, with an amazing slate of events, including a gala at the Smithsonian and a splendid induction ceremony for the new Fellows; impressive keynote speakers and distinguished presenters; and the historic official signing of our memorandum of agreement with the USPTO, our partner in supporting academic invention. We, as co-editors of T&I 18.4 and longtime supporters of the NAI, are very pleased to present this special issue containing a Special Section on the Fifth Annual Conference of the Academy of Inventors, which was held in April 2016 in Washington, DC, and a General Section. The Special Section kicks off with an article summarizing the highlights from the conference written by Dr. Kimberly Macuare of the NAI and Dr. Steven Kubisen of George Washington University. Five invited papers are included in this Special Section to highlight some of the conference presentations and to commemorate this historic fifth year of the NAI. Among these are Dr. Katrina Cornish’s examination of an impending global shortage of natural rubber and the innovations being created to meet that challenge; Dr. Florence Haseltine’s analysis of bias and the gender gap in the invention space; and a narrative chronicling the feats of two AAAS-Lemelson Inven-

tion Ambassadors who show that invention is not an option but an imperative. Rounding out the conference section are two historical pieces: a historical review of the U.S.’s three industrial revolutions and a consideration of whether we are now in the midst of a fourth written by Dr. Arthur Daemmrich and Dr. Arthur Molella’s history of the National Academy of Inventors and the Academy’s place in the long history of American academic invention. The depth and breadth of these contributions underscore the strength of the NAI itself, which spans diverse fields and embraces multidisciplinary collaboration. Two of our regular features—the NAI Fellow Profile, which recognizes and celebrates the achievements of our NAI Fellows, and the USPTO commentary— are also dedicated to conference themes in this issue. Dr. Emery Brown, noted anesthesiologist, neuroscientist, and statistician as well as keynote speaker at the Fifth Annual Conference of the Academy of Inventors, is featured in this issue’s NAI Fellow Profile, while the USPTO commentary presents a transcription of Commissioner for Patents Andrew Hirshfeld’s remarks offered to this year’s entering class of Fellows at the induction ceremony. The General Section contains six papers, spanning a wide range of subjects, including how to find and prepare teachers to meet the special needs of STEM-oriented students, the multifaceted return on investment provided by university seed cap programs,

_____________________ Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Steven J. Kubisen, Managing Director, GW Technology Commercialization Office, 2033 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20052, USA. Tel: +1 (202) 994-8394




and the potential for teaching students the habits of mind that lead to innovation. Also of great interest to our Academy are papers on the APLU Task Force findings on the management of intellectual property at universities and the importance of the SBIR/ STTR programs for spurring innovation. The General Section wraps up with a book review of Research to Revenue: A Practical Guide to University Start-Ups. This year’s conference highlighted a number of innovations that have sprung from university research and are having significant impact on our society. They touch upon some of the urgent issues we are facing— health care, energy, and the environment. We look forward to the future work of these great academic inventors and others as they take on these pressing global issues and create innovations to improve life for us all. Steven J. Kubisen, Ph.D. NAI Fellow and Arthur Molella, Ph.D. Member of the NAI Executive Advisory Board

ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 229-233, 2016 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.


1 National Academy of Inventors, Tampa, FL, USA Technology Commercialization Office, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

This article presents highlights from the Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), “Building on the Foundations of Innovation,” which was held on April 14 and 15, 2016, in Washington, DC. The NAI conference provides an annual forum for celebrating academic invention and inventors, recognizing and encouraging invention, and enhancing the visibility of university and non-profit research.

Kicking off the opening session were Dr. Florence Haseltine of the National Institutes of Health and Dr. Robert Fischell of the University of Maryland. Haseltine tackled one of the most topical issues of the day: women in science. Specifically, Haseltine first traced out the causes of women’s underrepresentation in patent production, noting that, “the research of today has been shaped decades earlier by how a young scientist was viewed and received when starting out.” After examining origins, she moved on to review data from the National Academy of Inventors to identify our current status as regards gender equality and consider potential interventions to increase female representation. You can read more about Haseltine’s observations on the intersection between gender and invention in her article “Why vs. What” in this issue. Fischell, an innovation powerhouse who is author on more than 200 patents, discussed the centrality and importance of inventors and invention culture, citing his influential work on epilepsy and migraine treatment, among other areas. Fischell encouraged

INTRODUCTION The Fifth Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors was held on April 14 and 15, 2016, at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, DC. This year’s conference, “Building on the Foundations of Innovation,” explored the intersection between America’s storied past and its bright future as a center of innovation and invention. In keeping with that theme, presenters and panelists remembered the trailblazers who laid the groundwork for sustained innovation and charted the path for future endeavors in the innovation arena. SESSION A: CHANGING THE INNOVATION CULTURE On Thursday, April 14, 2015, the opening session of the conference, “The Changing Innovation Culture,” featured a selection of speakers and panels focused on the vitality of innovation culture and how its rapid changes have ushered in significant changes in technologies, disciplines, and practices. _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Kimberly A. Macuare, Ph.D., Assistant Editor, Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors®, USF Research Park, 3702 Spectrum Boulevard, Suite 165, Tampa, FL 33612, USA. Phone: (813) 974-1347; E-mail:




fellow inventors to hew to their “perseverance and the unrelenting desire to overcome obstacles” in order to turn problems into opportunities for interventions that can resolve key problems plaguing humanity. In the first of four keynote addresses, Dr. Emery Brown, Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and of Computational Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, gave an informative presentation on his work in the areas of anesthesia and neuroscience—work that both changes the way that we conceive of anesthesia and its effects and has broad implications for improving clinical anesthesiological practice. Brown began by giving an overview of the dynamics of the unconscious brain under general anesthesia, demonstrating that common conceptions of anesthesia as a “shutting off ” of the brain are incorrect; rather, monitoring EEGs reveals that anesthetic drugs cause strong oscillations in the brain that interrupt communication among its different regions. As he notes, this state is emphatically “not sleep” but more akin to a reversible drug-induced coma. In addition to offering scientists a better understanding of drug and brain dynamics, Brown’s research has exciting implications for clinical practice, including the ability to give lower and thus safer doses of anesthetic agents to older patients and to awaken patients more quickly from the anesthetic state. Brown concluded by observing that “general anesthesia presents a unique window into the brain,” one that researchers and clinicians can use to better understand the brain and improve clinical practice. You can learn more about Brown’s research in this issue’s NAI Fellow Profile. In keeping with the session’s focus on the changing innovation culture, Dr. Paul Sanberg’s State of the Academy Address spotlighted not only the advances the Academy had made during the year but also how the NAI has changed and continues to impact the national conversation on innovation. In terms of growth, the Academy had expanded to 201 member institutions by April 2016, welcoming Duke University, UC Irvine, and Rice University, among others, as well as adding international affiliates in Australia, Brazil, France, and Canada. The society, in welcoming the class of 2015, grew to include 582 Fellows, representing over 190 universities and non-profit research institutes. Among them, this impressive group holds 21,000 U.S. patents. In considering the NAI’s

innovation outreach and impact, Sanberg noted that the NAI’s seminal work on the role of invention in tenure and advancement has spawned an Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) task force on tech transfer in tenure and promotion decisions and a follow-up article co-authored by members of that task force, which appeared in the NAI journal Technology and Innovation. Moreover, the NAI has formalized its relationship with the USPTO, signing an official memorandum of agreement, and rigorously pursued support to grant a federal charter to the NAI. As a result of these efforts, the NAI is well-positioned to ever more actively pursue initiatives to advance and protect academic invention. Rounding out the opening session, the AAASLemelson Invention Ambassadors hosted a panel discussion, “Invention Is Not an Option,” that brought together a diverse group of panelists with experience in tech transfer to discuss current efforts to create ecosystems for entrepreneurship at universities. Led by Dr. Yolanda Comedy of the AAAS, panelists Karen J.L. Burg, Juan E. Gilbert, Suzie H. Pun, and Michael A. Smith drew on their collective expertise to tackle the key issues of why invention is important, how we can get others involved, and how we can promote invention more effectively. Although working in fields as diverse as voting technology, drug delivery, health care monitoring systems, and biomedical engineering, all of the panelists agreed that the environment, often referred to as the innovation ecosystem, is key. Continuing the panel’s discussion, Comedy has spearheaded a follow-up article for this issue highlighting inventors who are actively involved in creating and fostering the ecosystem that spurs innovation. SESSION B: TRANSFORMATIVE TECHNOLOGIES The second session began with two oral presentations that explored the power of technologies to disrupt and transform the world around us. Dr. Katrina Cornish of The Ohio State University focused on the centrality of natural rubber to industrial progress and the potentially devastating impact that the impending shortage of that natural resource will have on a global scale. She then outlined the disruptive technologies and patents that her group has produced to head off that potential crisis, including establishing

NAI CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS new alternative rubber crops and alternative rubber applications. As she notes, these efforts “can erode the market share currently occupied by synthetic rubber, with enormous carbon footprint savings.” To read more about Cornish’s discoveries, turn to her article “Alternative Natural Rubber Crops: Why Should We Care?” in this issue. In the second presentation, Dr. Kristina Johnson of Cube Hydro Partners, whose pioneering work in display technologies has impacted 3D films, rear projection systems for televisions, digital mammograms, and near-to-the-eye displays, among other areas, discussed her work on color management in projection displays and 3D films. Her work on birefringent materials, materials whose refractive index depends on their polarization, led to the development of color polarization technology that was sold to RealD and used in blockbuster films, including Avatar. Johnson’s story, chronicling technology that is seen but not observed, speaks to the often quiet ways in which inventions transform our lives. In the session’s panel discussion, “Building Paths to Commercialization for Student Entrepreneurs: Exploring Challenges and Opportunities for Post-University Support,” Graham M. Pugh of the Lemelson Foundation moderated a discussion on the very real challenges facing students with entrepreneurial ambitions after they graduate and no longer have access to the resources they enjoyed as students. Panelists Soumyadipta Acharya, Dan E. Azagury, Pretik Patel, and Joseph Steig weighed in on the debate, noting the significant financial and infrastructural problems related to supporting young entrepreneurs and identifying programs that are providing successful safety nets for these innovators and thus allowing them to continue to produce and transfer technology to positively impact universities and society as a whole. In “Bench to Bedside to Policy: A Journal of Innovation,” the second keynote address of the conference, Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) and 2014 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, used his own innovation journey as a springboard for discussing the broader institutional change he has spurred and continues to advocate in his role as president of NAM. Dzau began by covering his personal history from his birth in Shanghai and childhood in Hong Kong to his


studies at McGill and Harvard to his posts at Stanford, Harvard, and Duke, among others, a trajectory that prepared him as both a physician-scientist and organizational leader. Moving on to discuss his work in translational research, he focused on his work with renin and ACE inhibitors to treat human heart failure, which has improved the lives of millions of patients and saves 400,000 lives annually in the U.S. Never content, Dzau has pushed forward, creating stem cell therapies to improve heart function and working on gene therapies that will be able to “reprogram” hearts following injury. His own experience as a physician-scientist working in translational medicine allowed him to see the often fragmented process from discovery to translation to implementation, which has led him to advocate an efficacious and efficient discovery to care continuum, a practice he put into place as a change-agent during his tenure as Duke’s chancellor for health affairs and president and CEO of Duke University Health System. Integral to this process was the establishment of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, and Duke Institute for Health Innovation in order to foster “global health innovations through collaborations across Duke and beyond.” Dzau finished by highlighting the importance of continuing this innovative work on a national scale as he has taken the reins as president for the NAM and has initiated work on global health risks, human gene editing, and grand challenges in health and medicine. As Dzau noted, when it comes to leading innovation, “the journey continues.” SESSION C: ENTREPRENEURSHIP DRIVES INVENTION FORWARD On Friday, April 15, 2016, the second day opened with the third keynote address, “Catalyzing Innovation to Meet Grand Challenges,” by Cristin A. Dorgelo, the former chief of staff for the White House Office of Science and Technology. Recognizing the key role that the federal government plays in spurring innovation in the U.S., Dorgelo detailed the White House’s initiatives in that arena under President Obama. She began by laying out the framework for these interventions, which can be found in “A Strategy for American Innovation,” a report jointly produced



by the National Economic Council and the Office of Science and Technology. The report recognizes that by investing in the “building blocks of innovation,” we will both “fuel the engine of private sector innovation” and “empower a nation of innovators.” The White House’s efforts to accomplish these ambitious but achievable goals have been diverse and impressive. They have established a set of grand challenges to focus foundations, universities, companies, investors, students, and innovators on solving key problems in diverse areas, such as brain research, solar energy, asteroid threats, prenatal and neonatal treatment, and Ebola. The White House has also seen the benefits of offering inducement prizes, as they can engage people who may never have considered focusing on a problem before. The site has launched more than 625 competitions, awarded $220 million in prizes, and engaged over 250,000 “solvers,” a feat for which it has earned the Harvard Ash Center’s “Innovations in American Government Award.” Finally, because they recognize that engaging citizens in innovation is key, Dorgelo highlighted efforts at opening data to the public and engaging in citizen science efforts. In support of these efforts, was created to provide a portal for citizen science and crowdsourcing, through which “the federal government and nongovernmental organizations can engage the American public in addressing societal needs and accelerating science, technology, and innovation.” In the second session’s oral presentations, Mir Imran of InCube Labs and InCube Ventures presented “Innovation, Invention & Entrepreneurial Thinking,” a practical examination of the application of entrepreneurial thinking to innovation and invention. Drawing on his rich background as an inventor and entrepreneur, Imran used InCube— which has started 28 companies with a combined >800 U.S. patents at a 4.7x return to investors—as an exemplar of an effective innovation ecosystem. He clearly outlined how to successfully negotiate the innovation-invention-commercialization cycle and differentiate between disruptive and incremental innovation. Ray H. Baughman of the University of Texas at Dallas wrapped up the conference’s oral presentations with his “The Living Platform Theory of Invention Spawns Powerful Artificial Muscles,” which focused on the immense benefits that scientific risk-taking can have for game-changing and life-

saving products. Baughman began by explaining how his early work with single crystal polydiacetylene fibers failed to achieve its original aims but led to the use of printable diacetylene inks for time-temperature indicators, an idea that is used to warn of vaccine perishability and has saved over 140,000 lives in the last decade. Knowing that this discovery was made possible because of the company’s belief in the value of high-risk research, Baughman took that attitude with him when he transitioned to academia as a professor, where he has led research on artificial muscles that are much stronger than human muscles and have exciting potential for applications where superhuman strengths are sought, such as robots and exoskeletons. As he acknowledged, commercializing this or any other technology “is risky, but we mitigate risk, by our choice of collaborators for invention, scientific understanding, and commercialization.” Rounding out the session on entrepreneurship was the third panel discussion, “Managing Risk in Academic Innovation.” Moderated by Elizabeth Langdon-Gray of Harvard University, the panel brought together university leaders, Delos M. Cosgrove, Alan W. Cramb, and Stephen K. Klasko, to discuss how to balance risk and reward as they spur innovation at their respective institutions. In a wide-ranging conversation, they identified managing conflicts of interest, corporate partnerships, and student IP as key areas in which they are working to assure that risk is handled in a way that is effective for creating change and for safeguarding universities. In the fourth and final keynote address, Andrew H. Hirshfeld, U.S. Commissioner for Patents, spoke about some of the UPTO’s initiatives to support the patent system. He began by highlighting the ALL in STEM program, which was created to increase the participation of women and girls in STEM education and careers. He noted the strong role models provided by the 22 female inductees in this year’s Fellow class and the strong female leadership at the USPTO, most notably USPTO director Michelle Lee. Hirshfeld finished by discussing the enhanced patent and quality initiative, which grew out of asking two core questions: 1) What can you do to make everything that you do better? and 2) How can you better support the patent system? The answers led them to establish a system based on three pillars: excellence in work products and services; excellence in measuring

NAI CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS patent quality; and excellence in customer service. You can read Hirshfeld’s speech in its entirety in this issue. Hirshfeld’s address served as a prelude to the final event of the conference, the Fellows Induction Ceremony for the 2015 class of Fellows. With the induction of the 168 2015 Fellows, the NAI now comprises 582 of the most illustrious inventors and innovators from the United States and abroad, representing more than 190 prestigious universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions.


Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 235-244, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

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HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF INVENTORS Arthur Molella Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA

Although the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) is still very young, it is not too soon to reflect upon its history. It is and always will be a future-oriented organization, but history is where the future begins. As a curator and historian of science and technology, I felt uniquely privileged to have joined the board of the National Academy of Inventors soon after its founding. What better way to observe in real time and to feel part of that early history (if only in a small way)? While memories and the excitement of creation are still fresh, I asked NAI founder Paul Sanberg to sit down with me to share his thoughts on the academy’s genesis. What follows incorporates the results of that interview along with some historical reflections on the relationship between invention and academia. Key words: Invention; Innovation; American inventors; History of invention; National Academy of Inventors; National Academy of Sciences, U.S. patents; Academic invention

no idea if anybody would come,” recalls Sanberg. To his utter surprise, over one hundred colleagues showed up. Why was he surprised? As a seasoned academic scientist and administrator, he was prepared to expect at best indifference and at worst hostility to his call. He was all too aware that traditional academic researchers are often allergic to patenting and commercialization. For some, indeed, the applications of their scientific work to the marketplace and capitalism were anathema. “It wasn’t pure science, and, therefore, there was some taint to it. And that was unfortunate,” says Sanberg. In the ivory tower, even the very term “academic innovation” can sound like an oxymoron. Plainly, this is not how Sanberg thinks. He sees no conflict between the search for knowledge and

THE MAKING OF AN ACADEMIC INVENTOR Most organizations have a creation story. Written or unwritten, these founding narratives share a common purpose of crystalizing and justifying the organization’s ethos and goals. In the case of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the story begins with an impromptu luncheon at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, one that packed a surprise for the academy’s founder, Paul Sanberg. It was the surprise that launched NAI. Early in 2009, Paul Sanberg, senior vice president for research, innovation, and economic development at the University of South Florida, issued a campus-wide invitation to all colleagues who had interests in invention and held at least one U.S. patent. “I had _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Arthur Molella, Director Emeritus, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Institution, NMAH, Room 1210, MRC 604, P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA. Tel: +1 (202) 633-3447; Fax: +1 (202) 633-4593.




applying that knowledge in the marketplace and to the needs of society. To the contrary, he considers the activities mutually reinforcing. But, to convince others of this, he faced significant hurdles ahead, as we’ll see. His own discovery of the joys of innovation came through a circuitous route. He began his career as a precocious but relatively traditional laboratory scientist publishing extensively in neuroscience journals.

patenting until after I was a full professor [a rank he achieved while still in his early thirties] and worked with a company.” Initially, he didn’t even think about licensing and patenting, largely out of ignorance of what he was missing. “The University never taught me anything about intellectual property (IP).…It wasn’t until I went into industry for a startup at Brown University that I learned anything about IP and why investors care about that.” At that point, he made an important life decision, electing to give up his tenured position at the University of Cincinnati to take his chances in the innovation marketplace. He joined a startup company associated with Brown University, where he also accepted a non-tenured faculty appointment. It was the early 1990s, on the eve of America’s high-tech boom, and the startup opened a whole new world to him, a world in which he knew he had a lot of catching up to do: “It was an incredibly fast learning experience for me to work in commercialization.”

Figure 1. Dr. Paul R. Sanberg in his laboratory speaking with former Florida Governor Charlie Crist.

NURTURING A CULTURE OF INNOVATION Sanberg immediately began applying what he had learned from his early experiences to his work at USF, which had recruited him in 1992 to help raise the university’s profile as a research campus. After spending a decade building his own laboratory and center into models of innovation, he moved into senior administration and was able to put his ideals into practice on a larger scale. Given his hands-on style of scientific publication, Sanberg took for granted that experimental research and invention were mutually reinforcing—a belief that informed his administrative policies at USF. He was determined not only to boost research output but to transform the way research was being done. In a word, he wanted to bring the whole of USF into the world of invention and innovation. He was fully aware that patenting had not been part of the academic culture at USF. But, if he was going to change things, what did he have to work with? It was this question that led him to extend his lunch invitation in 2009. As a result of that momentous meeting, he knew he was not alone in his enthusiasm for innovation. In the one hundred-plus attendees, he found a vibrant sub-culture of colleagues at USF who shared his passion for invention and commercialization. But, up until then, they had been working

Sanberg churned out scientific articles in neuroscience at an extraordinary pace. Blessed with a talent for working with his hands and making things, he regularly published methods articles or included a section in his research articles on experimental techniques, highlighting novel apparatus he devised to “make his research more cost effective.” Among his inventions were novel automatic counters and printing calculators used in experiments where laboratory animals were prompted to press on bars. “I was looking for ways to automate and to do things less expensively and on a larger scale,” he explained. He enjoyed showcasing his new instruments to colleagues, who were learning a great deal from the descriptions of his techniques. But he still didn’t think of himself as an inventor. Then came a shift. Some of those colleagues told him that he should make more of his work on experimental techniques and devices. Eventually it dawned on him that he could try to patent his new devices. “That’s when I first felt I was being an inventor,” he told me. Reflecting on his first brushes with invention, he said, “I went through training as a scientist and never learned anything about patents…. I didn’t start

HISTORY OF THE NAI below the radar at USF and not all that effectively. Their patents were few and far between, achieving only limited financial success for their academic filers. Those colleagues who were inventing did so essentially as a sideline, receiving little if any support or recognition from the administration—least of all from tenure and promotion committees. Sanberg judges that this neglect was not so much out of hostility as sheer ignorance within academic cloisters of the bigger world of innovation. Sanberg’s non-traditional attitudes and encouragement must have come to these would-be academic inventors as a breath of fresh air. Discovering the extent of this latent interest was equally bracing to Sanberg. Coming off that lunch meeting with renewed enthusiasm, Sanberg began to wonder what was going on at other universities: We were a mid-level state university on the rise, and if it was here, then there must be a lot more out there…. So I talked to a number of VPRs [vice presidents of research] and other senior leaders at various places, and they were all looking for ways in which to start doing what I was trying to do [finding and supporting the early adopters]. This got him thinking about an idea for an organization that would extend beyond USF, out to the state level and even nationally. LAUNCHING NAI In 2009, the U.S. economy had just tanked, he reminds us, “and there were discussions that industry is going to help us; the private sector’s got to be more involved with universities.” At around this same time, the National Advisory Council on Innovation and

Figure 2. The first luncheon of USF inventors.


Entrepreneurship, a group of entrepreneurs, investors, and university leaders, was created to facilitate the implementation of the America COMPETES Act. They were tasked with coming up with new ideas and providing guidance and feedback on policies intended to spur innovation and entrepreneurship. Sanberg recalls, “That environment, which encouraged the university to take a larger role in economic development, had a big impact on me. My role here in the university was to promote that economic development and build on it. It was just a matter of looking for opportunities….” Fortunately, he also had the unwavering support of USF President Judy Genshaft and other senior administrators. Some of those administrators—Stephen Klasko, now president of Thomas Jefferson University; Karen Holbrook, now president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; and John Wiencek, now provost and executive vice president of the University of Idaho—have gone on to take the NAI to their new universities, joining as member institutions and starting university chapters. Within a year, he and others, including Howard Federoff of Georgetown University, moved forward on his concept of the NAI. He and Howard met with Richard Maulsby of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and later with David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce and Patent Office Director, both of whom supported the idea of the NAI. He discovered there was a demand out there, not only within USF but also around the nation. In short, he was convinced the time had come for a new, long overdue organization. Those entities that already existed in the area of advancing innovation just didn’t do the job. To his mind, what distinguishes the National Academy of Inventors


MOLELLA The Academy put forward a sweeping and ambitious mission. Accomplishing it, however, required nothing less than a major cultural transformation: “Since its founding, the NAI has played a vital role in changing the academic culture to one of valuing patents and commercialization within its member institutions across the country” (2).

Figure 3. Under Secretary David Kappos, an early supporter of the National Academy of Inventors, speaks with conference attendees Tanaga A. Boozer (left) and Marcus W. Shute (right).

from other organizations that promote innovation, such as the National Academy of Engineering, is the NAI’s focus on academic innovation: “NAI focuses on academics, and that’s what makes us unique,” says Sanberg. “The technology people and the researchers have their own groups, but that doesn’t reach out to academics.” The National Academy of Inventors was formally launched in 2010 at an inaugural meeting at USF in Tampa with David Kappos. Rather than retracing the stages of the organization’s early development, which are well documented on the Academy’s website (1), this brief overview of the young organization’s genesis will focus rather on its founding aims and spirit, with an eye to the key relationship between academic research and patented innovation that the NAI was designed to foster. Sanberg was out to change minds and knew there was a lot of consciousness-raising to do. But it turned out the NAI had its work cut out for it, for the relationship between inventors and academics has a long and fraught history in the United States, a history that Sanberg had no choice but to reckon with. To fully grasp what this effort entailed, it is worth reviewing the mission statement on the Academy’s website: The NAI was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the invention of its members to benefit society.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES To effect this sort of cultural transformation within academe was no easy matter. Understanding why requires some historical perspective. Sanberg may not have been aware of it at the time, but the National Academy of Inventors was faced with bridging a gap between academics and inventors that had bedeviled the culture of American innovation for well over a century. This rift dates back at least to the formation of the American scientific community in the late 19th century. The founders of the community were attempting to establish their professional identities. As part of that quest, they articulated strong ideological convictions about the relationship between science and technology. They believed that science should not only be valued for its own sake, as the search for knowledge, but also as the one and true source of technological progress. Physicist Joseph Henry vs. the “Practical Men” Listen to Joseph Henry (1797-1878), Princeton physics professor, first head of the Smithsonian Institution, and one of the main architects of the American science community: Every mechanic art is based upon some principle [or] general laws of nature and…the more intimately acquainted we are with these laws the more capable we must be to advance and improve [the useful] arts. (3) Although he had first articulated this view as a young scientist, he remained faithful to its spirit throughout his life. It was a view widely shared by peers in the scientific community. According to this ideology as stated by Henry, James Watt’s invention of the steam engine depended on the heat theory of the physicist and chemist Joseph Black, the improvement of the windmill “employed” the mathematical calculations of the mathematician

HISTORY OF THE NAI and physicist Daniel Bernoulli, and so on. Such statements about the science-technology relationship are now considered a simplistic and outdated description of a complex process. Yet, without going into details of the shortcomings of Henry’s account, it is fair to say that the basic notion that technological invention depends on prior theoretical discovery has demonstrated remarkable staying power. It anticipates, for example, the sort of view that Vannevar Bush of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1890-1974), head of American research and development (R&D) during World War II, put forward in his influential 1945 report to the President, Science the Endless Frontier. Bush called for government support of basic science as the source for technological progress, a call that paved the way for the National Science Foundation. The idea is taken for granted today among many scientists and engineers. Recently, for instance, this writer heard a high-ranking academic official at MIT implicitly affirm this


view. Praising the Institute’s long-time commitment to basic science, he said that the main role of start-up and entrepreneurial activities supported at MIT was to take the fruits of that basic science out into the world. Yet, unlike today, in Joseph Henry’s time there existed a widespread counter-ideology. The late 19th century was the age of the independent inventor celebrated as a hero in democratic America. Theory was dismissed as mere book learning and scientists as wool-gatherers. The true heroes were the unschooled ‘practical men’ whose ‘Yankee ingenuity’ produced all the notable patented inventions driving America’s technological and economic progress. Patenting is one of the pillars of the NAI’s mission, reinforced by a strategic alliance, ratified in 2016, with the USPTO. It is difficult to conceive that 125 years ago patenting had become a major bone of contention among scientists and inventors. While Henry and like-minded scientists had no objections to patenting

Figure 4. Men of Progress from The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Pieced together by artist Christian Schussele from individual portraits, the painting depicts Joseph Henry (standing at center) looking down, perhaps uncomfortably, on the white-maned Morse sitting by his telegraph.



per se, they complained that too many patents were wasted on meaningless gadgets made by ignorant men with inflated egos. By no means underestimating the value of invention, Henry himself built the first prototypes of the telegraph and electric motor as part of his research in electromagnetism. But they remained prototypes, which he declined to patent, considering it beneath the dignity of a professor of natural philosophy (as science was then called) to profit from invention. Particularly offensive to Henry were inventors who exalted themselves at the expense of scientific discoverers. One of the most famous patent litigations of the 19th century pitted Henry against the inventor Samuel F. B. Morse and his business allies, whose telegraph patents embodied broad claims about applying electrical principles to invention. Pointing out that principles of nature are not patentable, Henry argued the credit had been stolen from him and, more importantly, from basic science (Figure 4) (4). This belief that basic science was the true mother of invention eventually morphed into a more extreme interpretation of the ‘pure science’ ideal—the pursuit of knowledge solely for its own sake —that took hold in certain quarters of American academia in the last quarter of the 19th century (5). While this version of a pure science ideology implied an isolation of science from technology, the connection was still maintained through a sort of trickle-down effect, by which the chain of invention could be traced back to an initial scientific discovery. As we’ll see in a moment, some scientists took the more cynical view that, in some cases, inventors stole from scientific discoverers for financial gain. Henry Rowland and the Ideology of Pure Science In 1883, the Johns Hopkins University physics professor Henry A. Rowland (1848-1901) penned what became the classic statement of the purity ideal in an article titled “A Plea for Pure Science” (6). “I have often been asked [he writes] which was the more important to the world, pure or applied science. To have the applications of science, the science itself must exist.” Much of the rest of the article rehearsed Joseph Henry’s litany of complaints about injustices inflicted on scientific discoverers. Rowland writes, “And yet it

Figure 5. Henry Rowland and his Dividing Engine. From Popular Science Monthly, 1903.

is not an uncommon thing, especially in American newspapers, to have the applications of science confounded with pure science; and some obscure American who steals the great ideas of some mind of the past, and enriches himself by the application of the same to domestic uses, is often lauded above the great originator of the idea, who might have worked out hundreds of such applications, had his mind possessed the necessary element of vulgarity.” His article then argues for the purity of the academic calling, objecting to those science professors who engage in consulting or “devote themselves to commercial work, to testifying in courts of law, and to any other work to increase their present large income.” Ira Remsen’s Johns Hopkins Lab: Patents Unwelcome Chemistry professor Ira Remsen (1846-1927), Rowland’s Johns Hopkins colleague, provides a dramatic example of pure-science ideology in action. Like many American chemists of his era, he received his Ph.D. in Germany, where he had imbibed the ideology of pure science. When he accepted a professorship at Johns Hopkins in 1876, he brought these convictions with him, establishing the nation’s first academic research lab in chemistry. In 1878, Remsen invited into his lab Constantin Fahlberg, a Russian post-doctoral student, to work with him in the study of compounds of coal tar, a viscous by-product of converting coal into coke. One day, after leaving the lab for dinner without thoroughly washing his hands, Fahlberg discovered a sweet tasting substance on his fingertips. Suspecting where it had come from, he immediately rushed back

HISTORY OF THE NAI to the lab and began tasting the chemicals in all his beakers—miraculously not poisoning himself in the process. Sure enough, one of them contained the sweet substance he was seeking—a classic instance of serendipity. He and Remsen (whose name was included as head of the lab) then published a joint article on the synthesis of the new substance. In 1884, Fahlberg went on to file for patents in the U.S. and Germany, calling the new substance saccharin and launching a lucrative business in sugar substitutes. Arguably, a university lab is prime territory for such serendipitous discoveries, as free-ranging basic research would seem to multiply the chances for the unexpected to occur. University administrators today would celebrate and capitalize on such an accidental invention. Not so Remsen, however. The Johns Hopkins chemist was furious that his former postdoctoral assistant had filed for patents without his knowledge and, even worse, claimed the discovery was his alone. Remsen’s anger at being slighted was understandable. But that was not the only reason for his ire; rather, as a devotee of pure science, he disdained industrial chemistry and commercialization in general. Much less did he want his own laboratory sullied by an association with patents (7). Ironically, almost exactly one hundred years later (1981-1983), Paul Sanberg was a post-doctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University. Traces of Remsen’s dim view of patenting still lingered. In a recent letter to Sanberg, Solomon Snyder, the eminent Johns Hopkins neuroscientist who mentored him at Hopkins, detected welcome signs of change: “Congratulations on your elegant PNAS [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] article on incentives for inventors. Historically—at many universities, including Hopkins—faculty who patented and commercialized their discoveries were denigrated rather than celebrated. Fortunately, this is no longer the case at Hopkins and most other universities. Hopefully, your piece will help change thinking in academia” (8). Academics Go to War This brief historical excursion into the 19th century illustrates the changing fortunes of the relationship between academic science and invention. The pure


science mentality—albeit in a less extreme form— certainly has not disappeared from the U.S. academic scene, as Paul Sanberg discovered. But its popularity had begun to fade with events in the early 20th century, as America entered World War I and the nation turned to scientists and engineers for help, inviting them out of their academic enclaves. Under President Woodrow Wilson, scientists and engineers were officially recruited to the war effort. Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, set up the Naval Consulting Board headed by America’s most famous inventor, Thomas Edison. The Board brought together “luminaries in the realm of science and technology,” applying theory and experiment to invention (9). At the same time, the National Research Council was set up under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to offer Wilson advice in the national crisis (10). This trend of applying science and engineering knowledge accelerated during World War II, known as the “physicists’ war” because of the success of the Manhattan Project, bringing together academic and industrial scientists. This combined effort of academe, corporations, and government resulted in the rise of Big Science, the systematic and well-funded application of research to technology that became the template for modern R&D. The application of scientists to war efforts has deep roots in American history. In the midst of the Civil War, the NAS was signed into law by President Lincoln (March 3, 1863). The NAS was “charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology.” The plan was to enlist science in aid of the Union cause (11). Although responding to many government requests for reports on military and civilian matters in the post-Civil War era, by the 1890s, the NAS was called upon for advice only infrequently and fell into a torpor. It devolved primarily into an honorific organization, remaining that way until revived and pressed again into public service during World War I, when it became an active scientific body, a status it has retained ever since. At first glance, in its mission to honor scientists and serve the public, not to mention its very name, the NAS looks like it might have been a direct model for the National Academy of Inventors. When asked



if it was, however, Sanberg hesitated and said, “No, not originally. It was not at first a central focal point for me, perhaps from being trained in Canada and Australia. When I became a senior administrator, we were looking at metrics to become a better university…. One metric was: How many National Academy members does that university have?” DEMOCRATIZING INVENTION Although NAS’s high-powered membership did inspire his and Under Secretary Kappos’ idea of having elite NAI Fellows, Sanberg departed significantly from the National Academy model in other ways. In its early years, the NAS was criticized as elitist and undemocratic (12). Whether or not it actually was, Sanberg was determined to break the mold: “The NAI, from its inception, has been expansive and inclusive, truly democratized,” he said. He points out that all the national academies—the NAS, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine— only have individual members. By contrast, he said, “We wanted to make the NAI as prestigious as the NAS as far as the kind of people we have in it, especially at the Fellow level, but make it a different kind of academy, one that also has universities….The NAI is universities, it’s individuals, and it’s very high level people in the Fellows program....” That expansive view is reflected in the 757 NAI Fellows, the 215 member institutions, and the 3,000 individual members who represent over 250 institutions worldwide (as of January 2017). One of Sanberg’s major aims has also been to drastically increase female participation in invention and innovation. “All the national academies are doing everything they can to make up for the past and bring in more women as academy members and as a percentage of the workforce. At the NAI, we have the advantage of being a start-up organization, not weighed down by our history. And, we’re highly motivated toward change. We are making tremendous strides in acknowledging the role of women in our enterprise—inducting women as Fellows and as NAI members. To see this, all you need to do is look at photos on our website of the NAI annual meetings, group photos of our decision-making board members, and our incoming class of Fellows.” This commitment has also been evident in the T&I journal’s publication of pieces addressing the gender gap

Figure 6. Several NAI Fellows from the 2013 class (from left to right: Samir Mitragotri, W. Mark Saltzman, Joachim Kohn, Cato Laurencin, Edith Mathiowitz, Kathryn Uhrich, Laura Niklason, and Marsha Moses).

in the innovation space, including a forthcoming special issue (13-15). Traditionally, the national academies “are tasked to answer questions from Congress, the White House, and various government agencies. We haven’t fully developed that aspect yet at the NAI.” It is clear, though, Sanberg would welcome a wider government advisory role for NAI, a role that supports his values of public service. Accordingly, Sanberg and members of the NAI board are now actively lobbying for a Congressional charter (16) for the organization to give it more of a government service function comparable to the national academies. In the future, Sanberg would also like to work more closely with other national academies in shared areas of interest, a natural overlap given that many of the NAI Fellows are also members of other national academies. LOOKING AHEAD: TEARING DOWN THE BARRIERS In a way, the current enthusiasm, even craze, for innovation that began in the early 1990s makes an organization like the NAI almost inevitable. Today, knowledge and institutions of every kind are linked to the innovation ethos. Universities have had a special relationship with high-tech regions ever since Stanford spawned Silicon Valley in the late 1950s. It is a model emulated around the world. Tech corridors and their equivalents would not be what they are without the knowledge base provided by academia. Nevertheless, universities serving as technology hubs are still in the minority. While great institutions like Stanford, MIT, and Berkeley dominate the landscape as regional

HISTORY OF THE NAI technology hubs, Sanberg believes there is plenty of room for growth elsewhere. He reveals this was a major consideration behind the establishment of NAI: “You didn’t have to be a Harvard or Stanford to do this kind of work. Every community in this country needs to be helped by an ‘ivory tower’ institution that could look outside and interact more with the community to create start-up companies, do research with companies, and get the country going and flowing. And not just with giving more research grants. Let’s get our faculty communicating. We need to train the faculty as well as students (who I think push the faculty)— with student companies, student incubators, and so on. The NAI promotes this sort of training.” This kind of activity fosters a higher level of community engagement and spurs economic development, both of which are paramount to the modern university’s mission. It is an interesting paradox that—despite the manifest importance of research at colleges and universities to technological innovation, industry, and the economy—obstacles to academic innovation remain entrenched in some institutions and in departmental enclaves. A restrictive vision of the academic calling is clearly one of the reasons behind this. As for commercialization, resistance within university administrations to patents began to fade decades ago when state and federal funding began to dry up. Congress increased the incentives for academic patenting with the passage in 1980 of the Bayh-Dole Act, which gave colleges and universities the rights to products from their government-funded research projects. The only conspicuous obstacle has been in the area of faculty buy-in. Despite the inevitable pushback, Sanberg remains committed to his goal of the cultural transformation of academia: To change the culture of universities so they recognize that academic invention is important and part of their mission. Culture is changing vis-à-vis promotion and tenure, for example. You won’t probably make big money out of it as faculty, but you still get credit for it. Not that Sanberg, an eminent neuroscientist in his own right, means to question the importance of pure research. In light of today’s insistent push toward a culture of innovation, he understands why


some academics might be hypersensitive to perceived challenges to the values of unfettered research. He fully appreciates a value system in which uninhibited academic inquiry is considered a non-negotiable right, critical to the free flow of scientific information and the diffusion of knowledge and experimental findings. All the apparatus needed to sustain this flow—journals, letters, on-line exchanges, professional meetings—are deemed equally vital to the enterprise. Sanberg feels that no one should feel his or her calling is at risk. On the contrary, he is at pains to avoid any hint of threat. He argues instead for a broader perspective—for opening up space in academe for both pure and applied activity at the expense of neither. Those who are so inclined (as he is) are welcome to do both. In the end, as he points out, nothing is lost intellectually. In fact, there is everything to gain: “We know that those faculty that are high achievers in academic invention are even higher achievers in academic research.” The benefits of breaking down the cultural barriers between pure and applied research are obvious to the members of NAI. The advantages are also validated by history. At one time, American scientists were criticized, if not dismissed, by many historians of science for being mired in the everyday and the practical— especially when compared with European greats, from Newton to Einstein. It turns out, however, that Newton was interested in the theory of ship-building and that Einstein, besides earning a living in the Bern patent office, had approximately 50 patents to his name, including one for a safer refrigerator. As Harvard science historian Peter Galison argues, in fact, Einstein’s revolutionary insight into the relativity of time emerged from his experiments using telegraphs to coordinate clocks in train stations (17). History shows that, far from being handicapped, American scientists have benefited from their abiding interests in things practical and even commercial (18). America’s unequaled bounty of Nobel Prizes testifies to the country’s lasting contribution to knowledge. Practical problems stimulate the imagination, require creative problem solving, and provide research opportunities all but indistinguishable from scientific problems. The dichotomy between pure and applied has lost almost all meaning. High-tech innovation, in biomechanical engineering, for example, is as much science as it is



technology. It is key to many improvements to the human condition, both in society at large and individually (in prosthetics, for example). Such innovation speaks to our whole being and responds to society’s intellectual, economic, and even spiritual needs. The marriage between invention and theory has already conferred uncounted benefits. The National Academy of Inventors’ boldly ecumenical philosophy raises a pressing question: Is it time to finally tear down the cultural barriers between science and invention and between academia and the broader community of innovation? For Sanberg, the answer is a resounding yes.





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Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 245-256, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright Š 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

ALTERNATIVE NATURAL RUBBER CROPS: WHY SHOULD WE CARE? Katrina Cornish Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Ohio Agricultural Research Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Natural rubber is a strategic raw material essential to the manufacture of 50,000 different rubber and latex products. Until recently, natural rubber has been produced solely from a single species, the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), which is grown as genetically similar clones in tropical regions and harvested by hand. Developed countries import all the natural rubber they require: >1.2 megatons/year by the U.S. and >12 megatons/year globally. Steadily increasing demand cannot be met in the future by the rubber tree alone, and viable alternative crops that can be established on farms and managed with mechanized equipment are required. If we fail to accomplish this goal in the near future, adverse economic consequences are predicted. However, while the introduction of any new crop is extremely challenging, a new rubber crop requires parallel coordinated expansion of farm acreage and processing capacity, initially feeding high-value niche markets suited to small-scale production, but which can gradually transition to address the much larger commodity markets. Sustainability of new rubber crops depends on valorization of the entire plant and environmentally-friendly processing. In the long term, the rubber from alternate rubber crops, especially more heat-stable derivatives such as epoxidized rubber, may supplement sections of the market share currently occupied by various synthetic rubbers with enormous carbon footprint savings. Key words: Buckeye Gold; Domestic crops; Economic security; Guayule; Hevea; Kazak dandelion; Natural rubber; Rubber dandelion; Rubber root; Russian dandelion; Sustainability

emerging economies such as those of China, India, and Brazil. World NR consumption is expected to be 16.5 mt/y by 2023 (1) and to continue to increase thereafter. Predicted impending global natural rubber shortages are greater than the 1.2 mt imported annually by the U.S. As economies of rubber-producing Asian countries improve, they struggle to support low cost natural rubber production from plantations of Hevea brasiliensis (rubber tree), and acreage is replaced primarily with less labor-intensive oil palm (2). This is because natural rubber is harvested by

NATURAL RUBBER IMPORTANCE Current natural rubber (NR) supplies from tropical countries are insecure because of burgeoning global demand led by the industrialization of developing countries, labor shortages, and fungal crop diseases. Total rubber consumption increased 61.2% from 2000 to 2014, and demand is continuing to increase. In 2014, global NR consumption reached 12.159 megatons (mt), nearly a 6.8% increase from the previous year (1), and consumption is expected to continually increase due to rising demands from _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Katrina Cornish, Ph.D., Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Avenue, Wooster, OH 44691-4096, USA. Tel: +1 (330) 263-3982; Fax: +1 (330) 263 3887; Mobile: +1 (760) 622-4330; E-mail:




hand, tapping the bark of the rubber trees to dribble the rubber-containing latex into small cups (3). About 11% of the latex is concentrated by dewatering before it is shipped to latex product manufacturers. The remainder is converted to solid rubber (by various methods) for products such as tires (tires consume ~70% of all natural rubber) (4). Replacement rubber tree acreage is established in poorer countries after first clearing more rain forest, a practice with an increasingly devastating ecological impact (5). Partly in response to this practice, the World Wildlife Fund is supporting a global deforestation moratorium. This is gaining traction, and Michelin is the first major tire company to commit to the moratorium (6). Widespread acceptance that additional deforestation in biologically-diverse rain forests is unacceptable will limit, or even prevent, the planting of new rubber tree plantations (7). The immediate requirement for new plantings to meet predicted demand in a five to seven year time frame requires new acreage of 32,817 square miles (8.5 million ha) (5), an area similar in size to Austria or the U.S. state of South Carolina. Thus, there is a critical need to establish sustainable, alternative rubber crops to supply the global natural rubber market in general, and U.S. industry in particular, before economically damaging disruptions in NR supply occur. It is curious that the importance of natural rubber is largely unnoticed by all those not intimately involved in the industry even though it is a critical raw material essential to the manufacture of 50,000 different NR products, and all industrial, consumer, medical, and military sectors. Recognizing rubber’s importance, a recent Rubber Journal Asia article asks, “What would industrial progress be without natural rubber? It’s hardly imaginable” (8). The History Channel’s Modern Marvels series states the issue even more directly, declaring: “Our four most important natural resources are air, water, petroleum and rubber” (9). Modern life is dependent upon natural rubber, and it cannot be replaced by petroleum-derived synthetic rubber in many high-performance applications. To put this demand in context, the 2014 global consumption of 12.2 mt is equivalent to the weight of approximately 11 full-grown, male African elephants every minute of the year. By 2030, the predicted demand of 30 mt/y will require the equivalent of 28 elephants/minute—all collected in little cups! At the moment, synthetic rubber (SR) occupies 55%

to 65% of the total rubber market, and increasing demand for these materials parallels the increasing demand for natural rubber. Natural and synthetic rubber materials are essential to virtually all manufacturing sectors, but all NR and a significant amount of SR used in the U.S. are imported, although the U.S. could manufacture sufficient SR to meet its internal demand. However, virtually all SRs are currently produced from non-sustainable fossil-fuel feedstocks and contribute heavily to pollution of air, soil, and all natural sources of water. Natural rubber can supplement synthetic rubber (currently responsible for ~90 mt of CO2/y) in some applications, supporting national goals of a sustainable and resilient bio-based economy (10). NATURAL RUBBER INSECURITY Even without increasing rubber demand, the natural rubber supply is at risk because, unlike most other agricultural commodities, it depends on a single species grown as clonal scions on seedling rootstocks. A lack of genetic diversity makes any crop prone to failure. Only a very few closely related clones are used, a single genetically-identical clone can account for hundreds of thousands of hectares of production, many fungal diseases constantly infect the plantations/small holdings, and obviously the risk of crop failure is extremely high (11). South American Leaf Blight (SALB) (Microcyclus ulei), a fatal rubber tree fungal disease, prevents large-scale production in Brazil, the country of origin of this species (1113). Work is in progress on finding SALB resistant germplasm, but it takes approximately 25 years to simply introduce each new clone, let alone replace the rubber tree acreage with resistant high-yielding clones. Thus, biodiversification of the natural rubber supply is essential for long-term sustainability and security. ALTERNATIVE NATURAL RUBBER CROPS Two alternative rubber-producing species are under development to address rubber biodiversity and critical supply needs: Parthenium argentatum (guayule) (14) and Taraxacum kok-saghyz, (rubber dandelion, also known as Buckeye Gold, Kazak(h) dandelion, rubber root, Russian dandelion, TK, and TKS) (Figure 1 (a) and (b)) (15). Guayule is native to the Chihuahuan desert of North America, whereas


Figure 1. Field grown alternate rubber crops: (a) Taraxacum kok-saghyz (rubber dandelion) and (b) Parthenium argentatum (guayule).

rubber dandelion is native to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Northwestern China. The agricultural ranges of the rubber tree, guayule, and rubber dandelion are distinct, and the three species can cover most of the agricultural regions of the world (Figure 2). Both alternative species are being developed on farms and research centers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia to safeguard national manufacturing requirements and induce global price stability. NATURAL RUBBER DIFFERENCES It is important to understand that rubber produced from different species is not the same (Table 1). This is analogous to starch from corn, potatoes, and rice, for example. Chemically, all starches are made of linear and helical amylose and branched amylopectin (16). However, the composition and macromolecular structure of starch from different


species differ, and their behavior, properties, and uses differ as well (16). Similarly, all natural rubber, chemically, is cis-1,4-polyisoprene, usually with a 2 to 3 unit trans-polyisoprene piece on the front end (17-19). However, molecular weight, macromolecular structure, intrinsic crosslinking, branching, and composition are species-specific and affect properties and uses (Table 1) (20-24). Plants make many cis-polyisoprenes, but they are only considered “rubber� if they are at least 100 isopentenyl units long, and at least 15,000 units are required for high quality rubber (>1 million g/mol molecular weight). It is well recognized that rubber is elastic and will revert to its original size and shape after deformation. However, what makes rubber such an irreplaceable material is its ability to stress-strain crystallize (22,25). This means that as rubber is stretched, its polymers change from a random to an ordered arrangement and effectively crystallize in the rubber matrix. This is evinced by the strength of the material rapidly increasing the more the material is stretched. This property can be deliberately increased by crosslinking the rubber polymers along their length, usually by heat and sulfur as in the common vulcanization process. As crosslink density increases so does material strength and durability, but stretchiness and softness decrease at the same time. The rate of crosslinking and the

Figure 2. Global climate map, which indicates approximate geographical ranges of the Hevea rubber tree, guayule and rubber dandelion.



Table 1. A Comparison of Some Properties of the Rubber from Table 1. A Comparison of Some Properties of the Rubber from Three Species Three Species Rubber tree

Rubber dandelion


Molecular weight
















Allergenic protein




Fatty Acid




Tensile Strength












final crosslink density are regulated by the chemical ingredients mixed into the rubber and the temperature and time that the rubber is baked (cured). This is where intrinsic compositional differences really matter because non-rubber components are part of the compound and alter the rubber curing chemistry. Thus, compounding chemistry must be adjusted to fit different natural rubbers from different species. All natural rubber is synthesized and compartmentalized in cytoplasmic rubber particles (Figure 3) (26,27). These rubber particles often are made in multinucleate pipe-like vessels in the bark called laticifers (3). This is the case in H. brasiliensis trees and T. kok-saghyz roots. However, P. argentatum makes its rubber particles in the cytosol of individual bark parenchyma cells (although it does make terpenes in pipe-like resin vessels) (28). The compositional differences of rubber from these species are rooted

in the specific cytosol in which the rubber particles were made (29), the rubber particle mono-layer biomembrane (26), and the extraction method used (tapping, aqueous or solvent extraction). NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC RUBBER DIFFERENCES SR does not yet exist that can match the key properties of NR. Such properties include high elasticity, high resilience, dynamic performance, high tensile strength, good wear resistance, low electrical conductivity, and excellent heat dispersion. Specific NR properties become progressively more important in tire manufacturing the higher the tire performance required. For example, the rubber component of airplane tires is entirely composed of natural rubber. Compared to NR, SRs are more resistant to oil, certain chemicals, and oxygen; have better aging and weathering characteristics; and demonstrate better resilience over a wider temperature range. Some of these intrinsic drawbacks of NR have been addressed by epoxidized NR in both H. brasiliensis (30,31) and P. argentatum (32). Epoxidized forms of NR are more oil- and temperature-resistant and have higher hardness, allowing their use in some traditional SR application spaces. Some major SRs are styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) produced from copolymerization of styrene and butadiene; butyl rubber (IIR), a copolymer of isobutylene with isoprene; nitrile rubber (NBR), an oil-resistant rubber copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene; neoprene (polychloroprene); and cis-polyisoprene.

Figure 3. Scanning electron micrographs of rubber particles purified from Hevea brasiliensis, Parthenium argentatum and Ficus elastica (from left to right, respectively).The scale bar for H. brasiliensis is 1 Âľm and applies to P. argentatum as well. The scale bar for F. elastica is 2 Âľm.


NATURAL RUBBER EXTRACTION AND PURIFICATION H. brasiliensis solid rubber is made by tapping the latex from tree bark and then coagulating the rubber by various methods, such as drying or acidification (4). The latex contains rubber particles and all components of the cytoplasm (the nuclei and mitochondria are retained by the laticifer upon tapping so that the laticifer, which is essentially a giant multinucleate cell, remains alive and can resynthesize new latex) (3). Many of these non-rubber cytoplasmic components are retained in the final solid rubber material and become part of the cure compound and finished product (23,24). T. kok-saghyz rubber is not harvested by tapping root laticifers. Even if this were possible to do, most of the rubber (>75%) in the root laticifers has coagulated inside the root during the life of the plant or, at least, at the point of extraction (33,34). This rubber has entrained cytoplasmic components. Also, since there is no apparent value to extracting the <25% latex fraction separately from the coagulated (solid) rubber (35), the harvested roots are dried before extraction, which converts the latex fraction into solid rubber (36). The solid rubber can be extracted either by strong organic solvents (37) or by an aqueous milling (38) and enzymatic process (36). Rubber produced by the aqueous process retains a significant amount of non-rubber constituents, whereas the solvent extraction process can lead to purer rubber. P. argentatum rubber also can be extracted by organic solvent from chipped dried shrub, which then requires fractionation to remove resins and degraded rubber (37). However, the rubber particles also can be extracted from fresh shrub in the form of a latex (39,40). Unlike in T. kok-saghyz roots, virtually all the rubber in P. argentatum bark parenchyma cells remains in the form of individual particles provided the shrub is healthy and hydrated (41,42). Latex extraction requires plant homogenization to rupture the bark parenchyma cells and release the rubber particles into the medium (39,43). The homogenate â&#x20AC;&#x153;soupâ&#x20AC;? contains all components of the shrub and so the particles must be separated from the other constituents. The separation and washing process yields a rubber emulsion (an artificially-produced latex) that contains very few non-rubber particle components, but the particle membrane components are retained and become part of the rubber compound (44).


Figure 4. Protein profiles of purified rubber particles purified from different rubber-producing species (top panel) and relative gel content (bottom panel). Lane 1, molecular weight marker; lane 2, Hevea brasiliensis; lane 3, Ficus elastica; lane 4, Parthenium argentatum; lane 5, Taraxacum kok-saghyz.

When these different natural rubbers are compared, it is clear that H. brasiliensis and T. kok-saghyz have similar composition with respect to gel (naturally crosslinked rubber) and protein, while P. argentatum has little of either (Figure 4) (20,23,24,29). The membrane is made of protein and lipids, and it is clear that P. argentatum has a much higher lipid to protein ratio than the other two. Also, lipid composition is different (29) although we do not yet know the lipid composition of T. kok-saghyz rubber particle membranes. The lipid and protein composition of the particle membrane significantly affects rubber particle properties and properties of the rubber itself. For example, the Ficus elastica rubber particle lipids are unusually long (waxes), and the proteins are integral to the membrane (29). This makes the membrane stiff (26), and the particles sometimes crack open like little eggs, letting the rubber polymer interior empty out (Figure 3) (27). The waxy membranes and low molecular weight rubber make F. elastica dry rubber friable and of poor quality. The proteins and lipids



in H. brasiliensis, P. argentatum, and T. kok-saghyz rubber particles create flexible membranes, and their dry rubber is cohesive and of high quality. The gel component comes in two forms, hard and soft gels, which affect processing parameters. Hard gel does not dissolve in strong organic solvents, whereas soft gels can be rendered soluble by protease and lipase breakdown of intermolecular linkages (45). ALTERNATIVE NATURAL RUBBER APPLICATIONS As discussed above, T. kok-saghyz rubber appears similar to H. brasiliensis rubber, including in respect to cross-reactivity with life-threatening Type I latex allergy (36). This means that T. kok-saghyz rubber shares the same applications as H. brasiliensis but certainly will lack the economies of scale needed to compete in the commodity rubber market on price for many years to come. However, it may be possible to interest manufacturers of high-margin products (e.g., shoes, sports equipment, etc.) in premium-priced, “Made in America,” sustainable T. kok-saghyz rubber because, unlike tires, such products can absorb large price differentials in their raw materials. In contrast, P. argentatum rubber can capitalize on its intrinsic differences. Performance limitations of H. brasiliensis natural rubber latex, currently the highest performance elastomer for dipped products, have been reached in many mature manufacturing industries, including, but not limited to, condoms, weather balloons, catheters, and specialty/medical gloves. However, P. argentatum’s rubber is distinctly different, being unbranched high molecular weight rubber with low protein and high fatty acid content. Latex films have superior thin film performance, combining softness and stretchiness with high strength and have no cross-reactivity with Type I latex allergy (36,40,44,46,47). P. argentatum latex opens up new growth potential to these industries. EnergyEne Inc., an Ohio start-up company focused on guayule latex (GNRL), is targeting initial sales to select specialty high-end products, such as condoms, lineman’s gloves, and high altitude weather balloons, which require the outstanding and unique performance characteristics of GNRL. These relatively small but high added-value markets will also allow revenue to be maximized from initially limited farming and

processing capacity. P. argentatum rubber and latex also have better polymer filler interactions than their H. brasiliensis versions, which may also prove to supply a competitive advantage to these materials (48,50). SCALING UP In response to transient global shortfalls and/or excessive prices, domestic rubber crops have briefly appeared in the U.S. over the last 100 years but lacked commercial viability in normal economic times. The rubber from both T. kok-saghyz and P. argentatum can be (and has been) used to produce tires, albeit with distinct compounding chemistries. Early federal and industrial funding mostly supported solvent extraction of P. argentatum rubber for the tire industry, as in the Department of Defense’s $60 million response to the oil embargo of the late 1970s, which drove up rubber prices. However, when rubber prices fell, this investment was not continued, and guayule fell out of favor because of the lack of an immediate need for its rubber. Most recently, Cooper Tire and Rubber Company led a National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Biomass Research and Development Initiative (NIFA-BRDI) 2012 grant for $6.9 million, and Bridgestone Tire and Rubber Company’s 2014 >$100 million investment into its Agro-Operations Research Farm (2013) and Biorubber Research Center (2014) has reinvigorated industrial interest. However, security in P. argentatum production requires publically available germplasm, established farming practices, and multiple processing companies willing to buy guayule crops from growers and sell purified rubber of consistent quality into the rubber manufacturing industry. Without these connections, farm loans and crop insurance will not be obtainable, and guayule will not be a feasible choice for farmers. Similarly, T. kok-saghyz development also is predominately supported by tire manufacturers, especially in Europe, with Continental Tire recently announcing a €35 million investment (2016) for a research facility in Germany and Apollo-Vredestein providing support in a rival effort, but again this is too proprietary, and production is very far from cost-effective. Much more support is needed on the crop development end of both of these alternative crops if they are to fulfill their potential.

THE HOME-GROWN RUBBER IMPERATIVE In addition, a major downside of this tire-centric approach is the challenge presented by scaling up these alternative rubber crops. If money is not being made during scale-up, the cost to reach the very large scale suited to commercial tires may be prohibitive (Figure 5). High-value niche applications are absolutely required with concomitant valorization of the non-rubber crop components. Thus, currently P. argentatum remains a perennial crop most suited to aqueous extraction of natural latex (applications are about 10% of the global rubber demand) because it is hypoallergenic (50,51) and produces superior latex films (46). P. argentatum rubber is softer than H. brasiliensis and is likely to be used only as a minor part of the elastomeric component of most tire types, although 100% guayule tires can be made. However, producing guayule rubber for tires is not a commercially viable path until economies of scale are achieved and enormous production targets are achieved. Tires currently absorb >70% of


the global rubber market, and even a single line of new tires requires capacity well out of the current reach of any alternative rubber crop. Much smaller markets are needed to fund expansion (e.g., shoes, sporting goods, rubber bands, and, in the case of P. argentatum, medical and consumer products such as catheters, gloves, balloons, etc.). RISK ASSESSMENT The risks and benefits of P. argentatum are reasonably well understood, and no adverse consequences have yet been identified, especially when waterbased processes are used. However, T. kok-saghyz has a much higher perceived risk because it is a close relative of the common dandelion, a pervasive weed. We are rapidly domesticating this species using classical selection and breeding combined with modern molecular tools. We expect that domestication traits will include changes that may affect the ecological impact of the crop in both positive (e.g., reduced seed


Figure 5. Schema illustrating the challenges posed by the imperative to concomitantly scale up crop production and processing capacity and match production to high-value niche markets until economies of scale allow competition in commodity markets.



dispersal) and potentially negative (e.g., increased vigor and herbicide resistance) ways. We are taking care to understand, mitigate, and resolve potentially negative impacts before they become a problem for crop production or acceptance (52). We also intend to ensure that farmers, regulators, and the public understand the actual risks of production, instead of the imagined risks, and the proper way to manage the crop to reduce or eliminate the risks. This must be in the context of understanding the economic consequences of not producing this rubber crop. Regulatory bodies attempt to protect the environment, the worker, and the public from negative effects of production, process, and utilization. However, in general, they are understaffed and are generalists rather than specialists. None can be fully informed on any specific new crop or process or material because they need to encounter it first. We need to lead these processes and educate regulatory personnel before they are required to make regulatory decisions. This is a crucial aspect of domestic rubber development across the value chain. To explain further, T. kok-saghyz is a rubber-producing cousin of the obnoxious and pervasive weed, the common dandelion. Commercial fields require excellent weed control to prevent the crop being overwhelmed by vigorous weeds. If we use conventional chemical methods, many questions must asked: Which ones can be used and at what rates? Do they contaminate the rubber? Do they contaminate the soil? Do they affect the next crop in that field? What is the impact of soil type? And the list goes on. However, it is likely that complete chemical weed control will not be achieved because of the close genetic relationship of the rubber dandelion to weedy dandelion. Genetic herbicide resistance is very probably going to be required. The gut reaction of most people is: “Oh no! This will spread into common dandelion and make it herbicide resistant!” We already have demonstrated that this does not and apparently cannot happen in North America because common dandelion in North America is a triploid obligate apomict, which cannot accept pollen from the diploid, sexual, rubber-producing dandelion. However, we must develop educational tools and wording to explain this to nontechnical audiences in advance of deployment. We also plan to investigate and assess the full ecological ramifications of variants of this new crop, including new hybrid lines with different traits,

which may naturally occur and be found by selection, or are created by mutagenesis or gene-editing (53) by genetic modification (GMO) (54,55), or by interspecific hybridization. In addition, the impacts in North America are not the same as in Europe, and perhaps other growing areas, because Europe is a center of dandelion diversity, and, unlike North America, diploid common dandelions co-exist there with their triploid apomictic form (56) and can readily hybridize with the rubber dandelion. Global interactions need to be explored, understood, and appropriately and sustainably planned for. Another example would be the competition for land between this crop and food crops, which can be investigated and managed in a similar way. There are many more examples related to crop production, of course. However, these broad issues are very difficult for individual researchers to manage. THE POLITICS OF ALTERNATIVE NATURAL RUBBER Extensive interdisciplinary research between academia and industry, supported by a range of funding mechanisms, is clearly required. Competitive grant programs are challenging to put into place because of a general lack of understanding of the strategic and economic importance of NR and the lack of a common frame of reference to inform the need for integrated, informative research from the plant (biologists) through processing (engineers) to the product (chemists). The Critical Agricultural Materials Act of 1984, Public Law 98-284, recognized that natural rubber is of vital importance to the economy, security, defense, progress, and health of the Nation but did not appropriate funding to address this critical need. However, the economic impacts of successfully deploying alternate rubber crops in the U.S. would be immense. Also, as U.S. alternative rubber crops expand beyond those needed to serve U.S. needs to meet global NR projections, and then to replace part of petroleum-based SR, we predict a mature market supporting at least 50 mt/y NR, on 25 to 50 million hectares, with biofuel production equivalent to ~24 EJ/y. This is a quarter of today’s U.S. energy requirement. This acreage is 62.5-fold the acreage needed for U.S. natural rubber self-sufficiency and is 2.0-fold the EISA 2007 liquid fuel goal for 2022. Every 20,000 ha of production

THE HOME-GROWN RUBBER IMPERATIVE would require a processing plant and approximately 4,000 workers across production and processing.As the crop expands, the concomitant infrastructure, rural development, and jobs creation would be enormous (160,000 jobs for U.S. NR self-sufficiency alone, and 10 million jobs to meet global demand). We have the capability and land area to actually accomplish this. P. argentatum can be planted on semi-arid lands, requires minimal maintenance, and the latex in new plantings can be first harvested in only 18 months. Unlike most crops, the shrubs can be harvested throughout the year, and stumps regrow rubber-containing branches, which can be harvested again annually, a cycle that can be repeated several times. Cultivation will not, therefore, directly compete with food production, with the possible exception of beef cattle. The Emergency Rubber Project of World War II estimated a P. argentatum-eligible land area of 52 million ha, and much of this land is not currently under cultivation (57) because it is semi-arid. Arizona, for example, has approximately 4 million ha of arable land, and only 0.5 million ha is under cultivation (USDA- National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2016). T. kok-saghyz can be farmed on a much larger land area across the northern U.S. This crop is likely to do well on marginal lands, but even on conventional farms, it will have minimal impact on food production if it is incorporated into a validated crop rotation scheme. However, at current rubber prices, 100% crop consumption will be required with development of a multitude of applications to support scaling up (such as resin and biomass derivatives in P. argentatum and inulin and biomass derivatives in T. kok-saghyz). If the U.S. is serious about redirecting industrial progress towards the bioeconomy and protecting critical raw materials supplies, it is essential that policy makers are educated and encouraged to support new industrial crops and bio-based materials and products. This is most important at the federal level because, with the sole exception of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) NIFABRDI program and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, new bio-based product support has been focused entirely on existing materials produced on a large scale (corn, soybeans, etc.). This past year (2016) is the first time grant programs are combining


bioenergy with bioproduct, which may give alternative rubber crops an opportunity among the many oilseeds competitors looking to elbow into current soybean markets. New specific grant programs are needed because the peer review process in current programs is heavily stacked against new crops, as the peer reviewers usually are not in this field and so do not generally support new crops because they would divert funds away from their own interests. Recent proposals have received occasional good comments on the science but have failed to fund because of views such as “what would corn do if this succeeded?” to the recurrent “I don’t believe in new crops—they will never work” to “we can make up the rubber shortfalls with synthetic rubber” (obviously not the case because of performance issues and lack of sustainability). CONCLUSIONS We have a unique opportunity to proactively develop and deploy two major industrial crops with many product applications, as well as the concomitant processing and manufacturing facilities. However, major obstacles impede the accomplishment of this proactively in advance of a significant supply shortfall. This proactive approach strongly contrasts with normal reactive responses. In the past, funding has only been released after unforeseen problems across the production and value chains have occurred. This time, we can foresee the impending problems in time to address them if “we” so choose. It is very clear that members of the general public, and sometimes policy-makers, commonly form their views from what they see/hear on mass media—especially television and the internet. Scientists are not very effective at countering erroneous information, and the nation has frequently paid a heavy price for this. Domestic rubber production can demonstrate how effective accurate dissemination of scientific information to the public can be across the entire sustainable materials production chain and is almost as exciting an opportunity as domestic rubber itself. It may even be possible to then use similar approaches to reverse the negative impressions around biotechnological approaches to food crop improvement—a stigma bizarrely not shared by biotechnologicallyproduced medicines.



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THE HOME-GROWN RUBBER IMPERATIVE 23. McMahan CM, Xie W, Wong R, Cornish K, Wood D, Mattoso LHC, Malmonge JA, Shintani DK, Whalen M. Natural rubber from domestic crops: interspecific comparisons. Rubber Chem. Tech. Fall 176th Technical Meeting of the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, Inc.; 2009 Oct 13-15; Pittsburgh, PA. 24. McMahan CM, Kostyal D, Lhamo D, Cornish K. Protein influences on guayule and hevea natural rubber sol and gel. J Appl Poly Sci. 132:4205142057; 2015. 25. Thuong NT, Yamamoto O, Nghia PT, Cornish K, Kawahara S. Effect of naturally occurring crosslinking junctions on green strength of natural rubber. Polym Advan Technol. 2016 [2016 Jul 19; date accessed 20 Jul 2016]. 26. Cornish K, Wood DF, Windle JJ. Rubber particles from four different species, examined by transmission electron microscopy and electron-paramagnetic-resonance spin labeling, are found to consist of a homogeneous rubber core enclosed by a contiguous, monolayer biomembrane. Planta. 210:85-96; 1999. 27. Wood DF, Cornish K. Microstructure of purified rubber particles. Int J Plant Sci. 161:435-445; 2000. 28. Backhaus RA. Rubber formation in plants â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a mini-review. Israel J Bot. 34:283-293; 1985. 29. Siler DJ, Goodrich Tanrikulu M, Cornish K, Stafford AE, McKeon TA. Composition of rubber particles of Hevea brasiliensis, Parthenium argentatum, Ficus elastica, and Euphorbia lactiflua indicates unconventional surface structure. Plant Physiol Biochem. 35:881-889; 1997. 30. Baker CSL, Gelling IR, Newell R. Epoxidized natural rubber. Rubber Chem Technol. 58:67-85; 1985. 31. Chuayjuljit S, Yaowsang C, Na-Ranong N, Potiyaraj P. Oil resistance and physical properties of in situ epoxidized natural rubber from high ammonia concentrated latex. J Appl Polym Sci. 100:3948â&#x20AC;&#x201C;3955; 2006. 32. Schloman WW Jr. Low-molecular-weight guayule natural rubber as a feedstock for epoxidized natural rubber. Ind Crops Prod. 1:35-39; 1992. 33. Cornish K. Yield and survival of Buckeye Gold (Taraxacum kok-saghyz). Paper presented at: Proceedings of Tire Technology; 2015 Feb 10-12; Cologne, Germany.


34. Cornish K, McNulty SK, Bates GM, Amstutz N, Wolfe SJ, Kopicky SE, Kleinhenz MD, Walker SD, Cardina J, Bennett MA, Grassbaugh EM, Jourdan PS, Rossington J, Michel FC Jr. Buckeye gold (Taraxacum kok-saghyz) in northeast Ohio. Paper presented at: Proceedings of Tire Technology; 2014 Feb 11-13; Cologne, Germany. 35. Michel FC Jr, Kozak R, inventors. Process for high yield and purity extraction of natural rubber from Taraxacum species. The Ohio State University (patent pending), OSU Tech ID: 2015-085; 2015. 36. Cornish K, Xie W, Kostyal D, Shintani D, Hamilton RG. Immunological analysis of the alternate natural rubber crop Taraxacum kok-saghyz indicates multiple proteins cross-reactive with Hevea brasiliensis latex allergens. J Biotechnol Biomater. 5:201-207; 2015. 37. Schloman WW Jr, Hively RA, Krishen AK, Andrews AM. Guayule byproduct evaluation: extract characterization. J Agric Food Chem. 31:873-876; 1983. 38. Eskew RK, Edwards PW, inventors; NASA, assignee. Process for recovering rubber from fleshy plants. United States patent US 2,393,035 A. 39. Cornish K, inventor; The United States of America as Represented by the Secretary of Agriculture, assignee. Hypoallergenic natural rubber products from Parthenium argentatum (Gray) and other non-Hevea brasiliensis species. United States patent US 5,717,050 A. 10 Feb 1998. 40. Schloman WW Jr, Wyzgoski F, McIntyre D, Cornish K, Siler DJ. Characterization and performance testing of guayule latex. Rubber Chem Technol. 69:215-222; 1996. 41. Cornish K, Chapman MH, Brichta JL, Vinyard SH, Nakayama FS. Post-harvest stability of latex in different sizes of guayule branches. Ind Crops Prod. 12:25-32; 2000. 42. Cornish K, Chapman MH, Nakayama FS, Vinyard SH, Whitehand LC. Latex quantification in guayule shrub and homogenate. Ind Crops Prod. 10:121-136; 1999. 43. Cornish K, Brichta JL. Purification of hypoallergenic latex from guayule shrub. In: Janick J, editor. Trends in New Crops and New Uses. Proceedings of the 5th National Symposium on New Crops and New Uses: Strength in Diversity;










CORNISH 2001 Nov 10-13; Atlanta (GA). Alexandria (VA): ASHS Press; 2002. p. 214-221. Cornish K, Williams J, Hall JL, McCoy RG. Production and properties of Yulex (R) - the natural solution to latex allergy. Rubber Chem Technol. 81:709-722; 2008. Nimpaiboon A, Ammuaypornsri S, Sakdapipanich J. Influence of gel content on the physical proterties of unfilled and carbon black filled natural rubber vulcanizates. Polym Test. 32:11351144; 2013. Nguyen KC, Williams JL, Wavrin JL, Cornish K. Effect of the cure temperature, time, and film thickness on Yulex latex. Paper presented at: Proceedings 11th International Latex Conference; 2008 Jul 22-23; Independence, Ohio. Cornish K, Brichta JL, Yu P, Wood DF, McGlothlin MW, Martin JA. Guayule latex provides a solution for the critical demands of the non-allergenic medical products market. Agro Food Ind HiTech. 12:27-31; 2001. Barrera CS, Cornish K. Novel mineral and organic materials from agro-industrial residues as fillers for natural rubber. J Polym Environ. 23:437-448; 2015. Barrera CS, Cornish K. High performance waste-derived filler/carbon black reinforced guayule natural rubber composites rubber. Ind Crops Prod. 86:132-142; 2016. Hamilton RG, Cornish K. Immunogenicity studies of guayule and guayule latex in occupationally exposed workers. Ind Crops Prod. 31:197-201; 2010. Siler DJ, Cornish K, Hamilton RG. Absence of cross-reactivity of IgE antibodies from subjects





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ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 257-265, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

INVENTION, INNOVATION SYSTEMS, AND THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Arthur Daemmrich Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA

This article reviews the interplay of major inventions and changes to innovation systems during three historical industrial revolutions as the basis for understanding whether a new revolutionary era is underway at present. The periods start with widespread use of steam power and manufacturing using interchangeable parts from the 1850s onwards; electrification, synthetic materials, and mass production beginning in 1900; digital computing and electronic communications starting in the 1960s; and a potentially emerging fourth revolution of artificial intelligence and distributed small-scale manufacturing. Specific inventions, changes to national innovation systems, shifts in workplaces and the organization of labor, and evolving styles of consumption are considered for each of the discrete industrial eras. The article concludes with lessons about spillovers from innovation that underpin industrial revolutions and offers perspective on contemporary debates concerning the rate of technology change. It also suggests that organizational and institutional structures that support inventors and ensure returns to corporate innovation in the United States will need to adjust if a fourth industrial revolution has begun. Key words: Invention; Industrial revolution; Innovation system; Labor; Consumption

arising from new methods of producing and shipping goods or for generating and transmitting information (3). Industrial revolutions are profound because they are periods in which key innovations lead to new ways of doing things, not just efficiencies or increased production at lower prices. More recently, a debate emerged in the 1990s about the significance of relationships among science, technology, and industry for industrial revolutions and the sometimes awkward fit of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries with traditional divisions of steam power as the source of the first, electricity as core to the second, and computing and communications as the foundation of

INTRODUCTION A fourth industrial revolution has started according to recent essays by technology entrepreneurs, policy reports issued by the World Economic Forum, and organizers of numerous high-profile conferences (1,2). Defining and dating industrial revolutions— periods during which technology, manufacturing, and employment change rapidly and in synchronicity— can be contentious among historians of technology, business, and economics. Yet, ever since Joseph Schumpeter’s groundbreaking Business Cycles was published in 1939, historians, economists, and others have delineated epochs to explain systemic changes _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Arthur Daemmrich, Director, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation Smithsonian (NMAH), Lemelson Center, MRC 604, P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC, 20013-7012, USA. Tel: +1 (202) 633-6396; E-mail: daemmricha@




a third industrial revolution (4,5). Other historical studies have contested the very existence of industrial revolutions, with some scholars arguing instead for gradualist or evolutionary interpretations (6,7). Rather than being only gradual or always revolutionary and accelerating, this article suggests that change over time exhibits features of punctuated equilibrium. Sometimes technology and social systems undergo incremental adjustments, but at other historical periods, which can last for three or four decades, rapid and profound changes occur. Each of the industrial revolutions analyzed here involved changes in widely used technologies, innovation systems (ways of organizing and financing innovation), the organization of labor (places and ways of working), and methods and means of consumption. These four aspects only rarely change rapidly together. When they do, the impacts are significant, consequential, and ultimately global in scope. This article describes the key components of three widely recognized industrial revolutions in the United States and offers an initial assessment of whether a fourth is underway. The first industrial revolution began in Britain with the introduction of steam power; mechanization of agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation; and shifts to factory work. It manifested later in the United States with the invention of precision tooling and interchangeable parts. The second industrial revolution originated in the United States with the electrification of the country, scaling of mass-production via assembly lines, and the invention and mass production of synthetic plastics and other new materials. The third industrial revolution also began in the United States thanks to the invention of semiconductors, widespread adoption of computers, and new systems for information storage and processing. A fourth industrial revolution may be about to begin thanks to a convergence of advances in artificial intelligence, reduced barriers to entrepreneurship, and the spread of technologies that enable rapid prototyping and niche market sales. In each of these revolutionary periods, new inventions and new approaches to organizing innovation led to anxieties about the deskilling of labor and fears of disruptions to existing political and social order. The present historical moment is characterized by a high degree of anxiety around technology change and disruptive innovation. To technological utopians, a convergence of computing power and bioengineering

foretells rising productivity, longer lifespans, and even a transhuman merging of people with computers (8,9). Other forecasters, including Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy, warn that a near-term future dominated by artificial intelligence has no place for or need of humans (10). Historical perspective from past periods of rapid and profound change suggests that even revolutionary innovation in technology does not eliminate work or make humans unnecessary (11). Of equal importance, and largely missed by proponents of a fourth industrial revolution, technology does not change through its own agency. Revolutionary periods inevitably bring significant changes to work and consumption as methods and means of production are transformed. However, these changes emerge through a dynamic push and pull relationship among inventors, business entrepreneurs, and consumers, and not from human adaptation to the imperatives of new technology. THE AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Originating in England toward the end of the 18th century, the first industrial revolution took hold in the United States starting in the mid-19th century. In his magisterial study of the United Kingdom, Paul Mantoux defined it succinctly: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The industrial revolution consists in the invention and use of processes which make it possible to speed up and constantly to increase productionâ&#x20AC;? (12). Mantoux and subsequent historians analyzed the first industrial revolution as more than a one-time change in technology or as resulting inexorably from innovations in steam power. Instead, they argued that the industrial revolution involved the emergence of a completely new approach to production, work, and consumption, a process that took over a century to fully unfold in England. People moved from rural villages to urban centers as work was centralized in factories. Consumption also shifted, as goods increasingly were produced not just for royal families, but also for a broader, albeit still exclusive, capitalist class. Entrepreneurs in the United States rapidly borrowed new ways of generating and using energy from England, and trained craftsmen, such as Samuel Slater, brought knowledge of new milling and weaving practices to North America (13). A transformative and revolutionary moment came for the United States with the invention of precision milling, first for guns

INVENTION AND THE 4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION and soon thereafter for bicycles, sewing machines, and other consumer goods. Pioneered at the Harper’s Ferry Armory in West Virginia, lathes designed for greater precision and built to follow repeated patterns for making metal parts ushered in a specifically American contribution to the long wave of the first industrial revolution (14). The resulting “uniformity principle” of interchangeable parts made it possible to hire fewer skilled laborers for factory work, a critical factor in light of mid-19th century labor shortages in the United States. Craftsmen at Harpers Ferry consequently spurned the new technology, viewing it as a threat. Yet, it soon caught on elsewhere, starting with the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts, which developed systems and controls that made the new technology efficient and manageable (15). Other transfers and spillovers followed; for example, the machinist Christian Sharps brought skills learned at Harpers Ferry to the Colt factory in Hartford, Connecticut, and then started making sewing machines. Other entrepreneurs built bicycles, household appliances, typewriters, and early automobiles using the same core approach (16,17). The innovation system underlying the American industrial revolution relied on individual inventors, system-builders for canals and rail, and ready access to speculative capital. U.S. government demand for weapons produced to uniform standards was key to the initial innovations underpinning interchangeable parts, but their spillover to other areas happened largely through individual entrepreneurship or the hiring of skilled machinists by competitors. Neither corporations, nor universities, nor the federal government were engaged in systematic and sustained research as would emerge in the 20th century. However, a thirty-year period beginning with the end of the Civil War did witness a remarkable growth of patenting (18). An age of invention was underway, growing from some 6,099 patents issued in 1865 to over 24,000 in 1900. Alongside advances in manufacturing and industrial production, the first industrial revolution in the United States also saw mass-market demand and consumption bubbles. For example, in 1887, some 300 manufacturers produced over one million bicycles in the United States. Bicycle manufacturers developed new promotional techniques, including sponsoring racing teams and obtaining celebrity endorsements, and invested in research to create new hubs, wheels,


and other components and to demonstrate the superiority of their materials (19). From the bespoke manufacture of goods for royal families and wealthy merchants in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, the industrial revolution had made it possible by 1900 for an emerging middle class to own a household full of consumer products and to travel by themselves to neighboring towns, setting the stage for tremendous demand for the automobile. ELECTRIFICATION AND MASS PRODUCTION A second industrial revolution took hold firmly in the 1910s as American cities installed electrical systems, Henry Ford opened the first continuously moving production line, and synthetic chemicals entered mass production. While Edison had demonstrated power distribution from the famous Pearl Street Station in New York City in 1882, it took additional advances in generation and distribution via alternating current to make the system viable. Yet, by 1930, over 70 percent of American households had electricity, and a wave of new consumer products had entered people’s lives (20). Drawing on consistent electrical power and building on the concept of rapid production enabled by precision machinery and interchangeable parts in the first industrial revolution, Ford’s assembly line played a significant role in an exponential increase in manufacturing output. Other factories sprang up around the country to supply vacuum cleaners, kitchen appliances, and thousands of other new “conveniences” that quickly came to be seen as essential to modern life (21). Many of these were made using new materials, starting with Bakelite’s commercial production in 1910, then polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in 1920, neoprene in 1930, and nylon in the mid-1940s. Like the first industrial revolution, the second also involved major reconfigurations of the extraction and use of natural resources and remarkable shifts in people’s daily lives within a single generation. To generate and transmit electricity across the vastness of the United States, huge power stations were built, with concurrent demand for coal and natural gas production. As Ford’s assembly line reduced the time required to make one Model T from 12.5 hours to 93 minutes within the first year, a rigorous regime of work oversight was put in place, extending to managing the timing of the arrival and processing



of parts. In turn, Ford’s system all but demanded a vertically integrated firm that could ensure timely procurement of raw materials not just domestically but from overseas as well. By the time the Model T was discontinued in 1927, its price had fallen below $300, and the company could produce one every 24 seconds (22). Across numerous industrial sectors, a large domestic market and new uses for natural resources of oil, gas, and iron ore underpinned largescale, continuous flow manufacturing (23). Daily production schedules featured scheduling systems that dictated use of different machine tools and forced employees to produce the same items by the same process in the same unit of time (24). The second industrial revolution thus led to new demands on the government to provide roads and other infrastructure. At the same time, unions expanded to represent the millions of workers engaged in factory employment. Total employment shifted toward manufacturing; thus, in 1916, on the eve of the United States entering World War I, one-third of Americans worked in agriculture, one-third in manufacturing, and one-third held technical, clerical, service, and other professional jobs. During this second industrial revolution, a distinctive innovation system emerged as corporations began to invest systematically in research and new product development. Between 1900 and 1931, over 1,600 companies established industrial research laboratories in the United States (25). Firms would no longer be dependent on outside sources for new technology, and they came to see innovation in materials, products, and eventually services as fundamental to their ability to compete with peers (26). In the same timeframe, university-based scientists and engineers at technical colleges found new opportunities for collaborations and consulting that connected their laboratory work to applications in industrial settings (27). Yet, a clear hierarchy of knowledge and behaviors tended to dominate most thinking and writing about invention and the innovation system, exemplified concisely in the motto of the 1933 Chicago world’s fair: “Science finds, industry applies, man conforms” (28). Innovation was organized around a linear pipeline from basic research to industrial or business application to consumer acceptance (whether or not by choice, as signaled by “man conforms”). Although independent inventors continued to work and sometimes thrive, they were increasingly marginal relative to industrial research

operations (29,30) Governments worldwide actively sought to promote national models of innovation, including creating both policies to advance domestic firms and barriers to protect natural resources and other sources of competitive advantage (31). Even as the United States became a global industrial powerhouse, and the public was told by conglomerates to “conform,” Americans forged a new consumer identity and began to demand broader choices. Innovations in the retail sector, including catalog-based shopping, reached people across the country and began to distinguish among narrower demographic price points (32). A distinctive consumption style emerged based on discretionary income, a need to “keep up with the Joneses,” along with distinctive socio-economic markers based on clothing, cars, and other specific tiers of household purchases (33). While the consumer economy generated market pull for greater diversity, manufacturers were strongly influenced by then-progressive notions of efficiency, standardization, and simplification advanced by industrial engineer Frederick Taylor and home economist Lillian Gilbreth (34). INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY A third industrial revolution, which has manifested largely as an information revolution, began to take form in the 1960s as semiconductor technology underwent an exponential inversion of computing speed relative to cost. With the introduction of personal computers in the late 1970s, the third revolution spread as firms and consumers began to innovate new uses for computing technology. Under the imperative of Moore’s Law—a doubling of the number of transistors on integrated circuits every eighteen months—the price of calculations and data sharing declined precipitously to the point where any additional calculation or data processing step was essentially free (35). Digital technology spread to countless devices in factories, offices, and households, with particularly significant scale impacts for automated manufacturing, data storage and retrieval, and entertainment media creation and distribution. In 1970, office work was done by clerks using electric typewriters with limited ability to cut-and-paste text, and calculations in fields like engineering or accounting involved work by hand on electronic calculators. Within thirty years, every workplace used

INVENTION AND THE 4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION internet-linked computers, had access to vast pools of information via the internet, and employed computation taking considerably less time than data entry. Aligned to information imperatives of the third industrial revolution, the innovation system shifted to greater collaboration across government, university, and corporate research labs. Starting in the 1980s, universities could patent discoveries and inventions even when supported by federal funds, sparking a race to make priority claims. Contrary to predictions for intensified disputes over intellectual property, new models of open innovation emerged that fostered greater exchanges and collaborations (36). At the same time, previously “wet” laboratory research in chemistry and biology increasingly shifted to work on models and simulations using computational methods (37). Multinational firms seeking to invent new medicines or innovate in chemistry, energy storage, or myriad other fields began to manage research teams on two or three continents that shared digital files with test results or tweaks to models. Even as countries competed with national research and development (R&D) investments, successful innovation began to involve collaborations across national borders (38). In some domains, independent inventors had great success in the third industrial revolution. For example, few of the people who coded the first generation of video games in the 1960s and 1970s or the first apps for cell phones and digital tablets in the 2000s worked for large companies. Inventors of toys, games, kitchen gadgets, and myriad household goods also were able to use technologies of the third industrial revolution to their benefit. Yet, the scale of work necessary to bring many inventions to market—including prototyping, product safety testing, and manufacturing at low cost—meant changes for technology inventors as the third industrial revolution progressed. They could patent but then typically licensed or sold their ideas to firms able to manufacture and market goods using global supply chains. Looking at patent data, the percentage of all utility patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the United States that were held by individual inventors, and not assigned to a corporation or university, declined gradually from 15 percent in 1998 to just over 6 percent in 2015. The information technology age has not been characterized by a large number of successful independent inventors.


Overall, employment in the United States underwent a steady change toward office work, retail, and a diverse mix of services. At the start of the information technology era in the late 1960s, some 30 percent of Americans worked in manufacturing and 15 percent in agriculture, while 55 percent of the employed worked in professional and service positions. By 2015, fewer than 9 percent of Americans worked in manufacturing and less than 2 percent in agriculture. Consumption patterns shifted gradually but inexorably toward services in the United States and other developed economies as the cost of food, clothing, and household goods held constant or even dropped in real terms. Unlike the first two industrial revolutions, the third did not feature a significant change in transportation, although air travel became far more accessible as a leisure purchase. Notably, advances in communications technology and the ability to convert music, movies, and other goods into digital formats aligned to significant increases in media purchases. By contrast, healthcare services saw fewer transformative changes and next to no price efficiencies related to advances in information technology. As a result, consumer spending on pharmaceuticals, hospital care, and pet care outpaced other areas (39). A FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION? A recent wave of essays, books, and techno-optimistic TED talks has coalesced around the concept that a fourth industrial revolution is underway. According to leading proponents, three key features will characterize this next phase. First, the fourth industrial revolution will see lower barriers between inventors and markets thanks to 3D printing and other new technologies for prototyping (40). Costs for people with new ideas to create small companies will drop further, reducing barriers to start-up formation. In addition, products can prosper based on niche markets thanks to the emergence of “long tail” strategies under which firms like Amazon stock and sell inventories massively larger than any physical store (41). Second, forecasters are predicting a far more active role for artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in coming years. Artificial systems that rationally solve complex problems or take actions to achieve goals in a diverse set of real world circumstances pose a threat to many kinds of employment but also offer



new avenues to economic growth and will create new types of work that are difficult to predict (42). For example, driverless cars may modestly displace taxi and Uber drivers, but autonomous trucks would potentially radically transform shipping with far fewer jobs for truck drivers, but more positions in logistics and planning. In other cases, a mix of professional barriers, skills impossible to fully automate, and regulations will lead to AI serving in advisory capacities for skilled professions, such as doctors and surgeons, and as colleagues for many kinds of office work (43). Third, innovation systems in the fourth industrial revolution will integrate across different scientific and technical disciplines and incorporate other domains such as education rather than looking to hand off findings from one area to the next. Innovation will be supported through crowdsourcing of funds rather than exclusively government or corporate R&D funding (44). Perhaps most significantly, these key forces will come together in a “fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres,” as suggested by the economist and founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab (45). McKinsey Consulting’s in-house think-tank similarly has reported that a convergence of forces is leading to changes “happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3,000 times the impact” of the first industrial revolution (46). Yet, some critics have also noted that the third industrial revolution was already limited in its effects on people’s lives compared to the second or first, which more radically transformed households, ways of working, transportation, communication, and consumption. Analyzing productivity growth rates since the mid-19th century, the economist Robert Gordon has argued that the digital revolution was more limited than is widely believed and that no technology-driven revolution is on the horizon that will impact the public more generally (47). Similarly, social critic Jeremy Rifkin has argued, “the Third Industrial Revolution—the digital revolution—has yet to reach its vast potential, making it far too early to declare it over and done” (48). Looking across the first three industrial revolutions identified here, it is striking that employment can change in a single generation (from farms to factories, and then from factories to knowledge work), but within any one period, change is more gradual

than sometimes portrayed. Across the industrialized world, policies to retrain workers for large-scale technology and economic change have had mixed results (49). In each of the revolutionary periods described here, technology breakthroughs and new ways of organizing production saw some degree of automation of work previously done by humans. Overall employment, however, was not destroyed; instead, total employment grew considerably in each period, including as women were brought into formal workplaces. Similarly, neither a dystopian future of mass unemployment nor a utopian life of pure leisure and artistic expression are likely under a fourth industrial revolution. Nevertheless, a fourth industrial revolution also will involve changes to consumption behavior and to the ways in which people forge individual and group identities to make sense of their changing world. Consumption is shifting at present, notably with the growth of spending on travel, concerts, sports, and other events in contrast to goods or services (50). Consulting reports now point to the need for firms to create “experiential value” for customers, and both the young (millennial generation) and growing ranks of the retired value experiences above goods (51). Individual and group identity are likewise evolving to focus on a variety of hubs and activity-based centers—whether for start-up businesses, social entrepreneurship, or other forums for interaction— that differ from the commercial and governmental locations that dominated the first three revolutionary periods. CONCLUSION Reviewing the three major industrial revolutions that first brought the United States into a position of technological and economic leadership is revealing on several fronts. First, a roughly 30-year time period of especially intensive change characterized each of the past industrial revolutions. Precision milling and interchangeable parts were diffusing by the mid-1850s, and their impact on the production of guns, bicycles, sewing machines, and other equipment unfolded through the mid-1880s. Likewise, electrification of the United States and impacts of the Ford assembly line and industrial chemistry spread across a time period roughly occurring between 1910

INVENTION AND THE 4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION and 1940. The information technology revolution is associated with a concentrated wave of innovations that had profound impacts between the mid-1970s and mid-2000s. On that basis alone, the time for a fourth revolution may be nearing though it would be flawed to treat periods of industrial and technological change as laws of nature. Second, major applications of breakthrough technologies typically emerge only after a technology has been put into use and then undergoes a sequential process of refinement and tweaking. New products can take time to develop uses. For example, bicycles were used by a narrow niche of riders until innovations made them safer and easier for broader populations, especially women and children, to use in the 1880s. New means of production find uses in factories and other manufacturing sites over the course of decades, during which they displace prior methods, whether human-based and reliant on craft skills or machine-based but less efficient than the innovation. In each of the revolutionary periods, consumption patterns shifted significantly not just because of changes in overall wealth levels but also as people discovered previously unknown needs that were only made clear by the existence and marketing of novel goods, services, and experiences. Finally, governments worldwide consider technological innovation a social good, economic driver, and imperative for international competition. From being viewed as a means to create wealth and solve problems in transportation, energy, healthcare, and other domains, innovation has now become an end in itself (52). As a consequence, we may be undervaluing both physical infrastructure and social and financial support for inventors not employed in large corporations or able to secure scientific research grants. Independent inventors will be key to the emergence of a fourth industrial revolution. While crowdsourcing and prizes are encouraging a new wave of invention, their lack of stability and winner-take-all structure are not presently building a sustained ecosystem. New organizational and institutional structures that support inventors and ensure returns to innovation in the United States are needed for a fourth industrial revolution to progress.


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ISSN 1949-8241 â&#x20AC;˘ E-ISSN 1949-825X

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 267-274, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright Š 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

INVENTION IS NOT AN OPTION Yolanda L. Comedy1, Juan E. Gilbert2,3, and Suzie H. Pun3,4 1 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Washington, DC, USA Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA 3 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador Program, Washington, DC, USA 4 Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA


Inventors help solve all kinds of problems. The AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador program celebrates inventors who have an impact on global challenges, making our communities and the globe better, one invention at a time. In this paper, we introduce two of these invention ambassadors: Dr. Suzie Pun and Dr. Juan Gilbert. Dr. Suzie Pun is the Robert F. Rushmer Professor of Bioengineering, an adjunct professor of chemical engineering, and a member of the Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute at the University of Washington. Dr. Juan Gilbert is the Andrew Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and chair of the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida. Both have a passion for solving problems and are dedicated to teaching their students to change the world. Key words: Invention; AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador; Voting technology; Bioengineering; Materials science

significant impact on society and solved challenging problems. Additionally, though many of us think of invention as an individual sport, the inventors highlighted in this article work collaboratively with their students in a university setting, using their positions as professors to not only do research and teach students but to help cultivate a new wave of future inventors. Dr. Suzie Pun is the Robert F. Rushmer Professor of Bioengineering, an adjunct professor of chemical engineering, and a member of the Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute at the University of Washington. Dr. Juan Gilbert is the Andrew Banks

INTRODUCTION Inventors help solve all kinds of problems. The AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador program celebrates inventors who have an impact on global challenges, making our communities and the globe better, one invention at a time. We face many challenges. From figuring out how to save our planet to solving problems that impact only one country to making the quality of life better for many, inventors question the world around them, constantly looking for solutions. This article highlights the work of two academic inventors from very different fields whose inventions have made _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Yolanda L. Comedy, Ph.D., Director, AAAS Center for Advancing Science & Engineering Capacity, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1200 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA.




Family Preeminence Endowed Professor and chair of the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida. It is likely that neither had the career goal of becoming an inventor, but they both have a passion for solving problems and teaching their students one important lesson: “If it’s not the way you want it to be, change it.” And then they help their students do just that. INVENTORS IN THE MAKING Juan leads the Human-Experience Research Lab and has research projects in voting systems and technologies, advanced learning technologies, usability and accessibility, ethnocomputing (Culturally Relevant Computing), and databases/data mining. He holds one U.S. patent that has been licensed. He has published more than 180 articles and given more than 250 invited talks. He is an AAAS Fellow, an ACM Distinguished Scientist, an AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador, a National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies, and a senior member of the IEEE. One of the most impactful projects that Juan and his students have worked on is voting technology, where they created a universal voting technology that can accommodate all U.S. voters regardless of physical abilities or reading skills. They started with the premise that they could do something to remedy voting problems in the U.S. Believing that students are the future—and that their base of knowledge gave them both permission and a responsibility to change the world—the group took on “hanging chads.” The right to vote is a privilege of democracy and one that some groups have worked hard to obtain in the United States. Since each person wants to ensure that their vote counts, the 2000 elections brought to the forefront the worrying concern that our system does not always work as expected. Juan notes that in 2000, the State of Florida forever changed the future of voting in the U.S. As a result of the infamous hanging chads in the 2000 Presidential Election with Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Congress took action and passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002. The HAVA appropriated $3.9 billion dollars for States to upgrade their voting equipment. HAVA also required that every voting place have at least one “accessible” voting machine. The aspiration for HAVA was to make voting more secure and accessible. However,

there have been, and continue to be, issues in voting with respect to security and accessibility. As a result of the 2000 Presidential Election and the passing of the HAVA, Dr. Gilbert and his research team created Prime III, universal voting technology. Suzie is a professor of bioengineering, an adjunct professor of chemical engineering, and a member of the Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute at the University of Washington Suzie once said she didn’t always see herself as an inventor, but she went after medical challenges with a vengeance, and, in the process, an inventor was born. She and her team focus on biomaterials and drug delivery, and she has contributed to drug delivery vehicles that have entered clinical trials. Her research group has developed methods for drug delivery to the central nervous system as well as injectable, synthetic hemostats for trauma treatment. Like many academics, she has written many research articles (100+) and has given numerous presentations (100), but, in addition, she holds six patents. Suzie has been awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a Young Investigator Award from the Controlled Release Society, the 2014 Inaugural Biomaterials Science Lectureship, and was named a Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s TR100 Young Innovator and an American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering fellow.   One of the major projects that Suzie and her group at the University of Washington have been working on for the last dozen years has been the development of synthetic polymers driven specifically by medical emergencies. Polymers, large molecules comprised of many smaller repeat units, have been broadly used in biomedical applications. Notable examples of polymers used in medicine include cellulose, a sugar-based polymer, used in kidney dialysis membranes; polyesters used in resorbable sutures; and polyacrylamides used in soft contact lenses. Suzie notes that the polymers that she and her group develop are bio-inspired and based on natural processes or naturally-occurring materials. Their materials integrate bioactive motifs with synthetic polymers. These bioactive motifs impart biological activity to the materials that remain amenable to large-scale production as synthetic polymers rather than as biologics, which carry high cost and challenges in scale-up. The team’s technology development addresses medical needs using biological inspiration and design rationale.



Two of her team’s current projects are: PolySTAT, an injectable polymeric hemostat, and VIPER, a non-viral nucleic acid delivery vector. DESCRIBING PRIME III Prime III stands for premier third generation voting technology. First generation voting technologies are paper and pen, lever machines, and other physical voting apparatuses. Second generation would be touchscreen voting machines, also known as direct recording equipment (DRE). Third generation technologies are universally designed technologies. Universal design is the principle of designing a system or environment such that it has the broadest access for as many people as possible. Wheelchair ramps, for example, have a universal design because they can be used by people with wheelchairs and those who can walk. In 2002, when the HAVA was passed, conventional wisdom was that people with disabilities needed a separate voting machine. There was this notion that voters would have a separate but equal experience. It was thought that you could not build a universally designed voting machine. However, Dr. Gilbert and his team did just that—they built Prime III. In an interview, Dr. Gilbert said “So even if you can’t see, you can’t hear, you can’t read, you don’t have any arms, you can still vote on the same machine as everyone else” (1). Prime III allows voters to mark their ballots using touch and/or voice. Voters can interact with the system by touch or a button switch and/or by voice through a headset with a microphone. These interactions allow people who can’t see, hear, or read and those with limited upper body mobility to all privately and independently mark their ballots on the same machine as everyone else. Independent of your ability or disability, everyone can use the same technology to mark their ballots using Prime III. The first version of Prime III was created in 2003 (Figure 1). Dr. Gilbert and his team didn’t know it at the time, but they had created the world’s most accessible voting technology, and they would forever change voting in the U.S. Since 2003, Dr. Gilbert and his team have conducted numerous elections, research studies, and demonstrations all across the U.S. Oregon, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire have all done pilot elections using Prime III. Prime III has also been used in

Figure 1. Prime III, a secure, accessible voting system.

organizational elections for Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, National Council of Independent Living, National Society of Black Engineers, and others. Prime III was even used in an elementary school to do a Presidential mock election. Prime III has been used by people with disabilities ranging from visual impairments to missing limbs as well as people who do not have any disabilities. In all of these studies, there were insights gained into how universal design can be implemented in voting. As such, Prime III has been tested and proven to be a universally designed voting technology. In 2015, Dr. Gilbert released Prime III as open source on GitHub. The State of New Hampshire acquired Prime III and used it statewide in 2016 in the February Presidential Primaries. New Hampshire was the first state to adopt Prime III for statewide use. However, several others are investigating Prime III as well. One of the motivating factors for adopting Prime III is that the HAVA funding has run out, and there’s no promise of additional funding. Therefore, states are looking for options to replace their decaying voting technologies. As an open source option, the cost savings are significant. In addition to being an accessible voting tool that implements a universal design, Prime III is also secure, an element more important than ever in light of recent events. While election security has always been a major concern, in the recent 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, election security surged to the forefront of many discussions. Questions about the security of votes were prominent, with candidates and pundits questioning the integrity of the system. Furthermore, there were several hacking incidents on



mail servers and other computers that fed the fears of elections being hacked. Prime III’s major advantage in this respect is that the software is independent (2). Software-independent voting technologies have the property that no intentional or unintentional change in the software can cause an undetected change in the outcome of the election. When a voter uses Prime III, they will mark their ballot using the universal design features. When they are done, Prime III prints a paper ballot with their selections. As such, the paper ballot is the ballot of record. Prime III doesn’t retain any information about the voter or their selections. In many respects, Prime III is a sophisticated ink pen. Therefore, changing the software cannot alter votes because the printed ballot is the actual ballot of record. Prime III was created at a time when conventional wisdom was that people with disabilities needed a separate voting machine. The timing and impact of this invention was way ahead of society. Fast-forward to the current time, and voting machine manufacturers are creating universally designed voting machines inspired by Prime III, and elections officials and voters alike are requesting these technologies. More than a decade after its initial creation, Prime III has gone prime time in statewide elections in New Hampshire. In the years to come, many will realize that Dr. Gilbert’s invention forever changed the landscape of voting in the U.S. UNDERSTANDING PolySTAT AND VIPER PolySTAT: An Injectable Polymeric Hemostat Trauma is one of the major causes of death in young people in the United States. Of the trauma-related deaths, about one-third are due to hemorrhage, or uncontrolled bleeding, that occurs immediately following the injury (3,4). Direct methods, such as compression and tourniquet application, are used in the field to minimize blood loss. To restore blood loss during resuscitation, patients are infused with human plasma or blood products or other intravenous fluids (5). However, there remains a great need for injectable therapies that can be administered by first responders to rapidly halt bleeding at incompressible injury sites. Suzie’s team partnered with Dr. Nathan White and his laboratory to develop injectable hemostatic polymers for use in trauma medicine. The design of the first polymer they developed, PolySTAT (polymeric

hemostat), was inspired by the actions of Factor XIII, an enzyme that, when activated, crosslinks and stabilizes fibrin, the protein used to form the mesh in blood clots. In addition to its biological activity, they wanted a material that would not require special storage conditions so that it could be easily transported and used by first responders. The list of their desired material characteristics and proposed design solutions is shown in Table 1. Using a recently developed controlled polymerization technique known as RAFT (reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer) polymerization, they synthesized the first generation PolySTAT, a polymer that displays on average 16 fibrin-binding peptides on a water-soluble polymer backbone (6). PolySTAT integrates into forming clots (Figure 2), resulting in a hybrid clot comprising natural fibrin protein as well as synthetic PolySTAT. The hybrid clot shows greater strength and more resistance to degradation under coagulopathic conditions that often result in patients after traumatic injury.

Figure 2. Confocal images of fibrin (red) clots formed in the presence of polySTAT (green) that polySTAT is integrated throughout the fibrin network. Scalebar = 10 μm. Figure reproduced with permission from AAAS (Chan LW, Wang X, Wei H, Pozzo LD, White NJ, Pun SH. A synthetic fibrin cross-linking polymer for modulating clot properties and inducing hemostasis. Sci Transl Med. 7(277): 277ra29-77ra29; 2015), copyright 2015.

PolySTAT was designed to circulate for around one hour after administration; this parameter was selected because ~85% of the United States population has access to a trauma center via ambulance or helicopter within 60 minutes (7). Over time, PolySTAT is eliminated through the urine to minimize risk of thrombosis. PolySTAT was tested in a rat femoral artery injury model with fluid resuscitation. Whereas untreated animals or animals treated with control substances (e.g., albumin as an oncotic control or a comparable control polymer displaying scrambled peptides that do not bind to fibrin) had only 0% to 40% survival, 100% of animals treated with PolySTAT

Table 1: Design Characteristics and Proposed Design Solutions Used during Development



of PolySTAT Table 1. Design Characteristics and Proposed Design Solutions Used During Development of PolySTAT

Desired Characteristic

Design Solution

Specific clot

Peptide that binds fibrin but not fibrinogen

recognition Crosslinks clots Bioactivity

Multivalent display of fibrin-binding peptide on

Access internal injury sites

polymer backbone Injectable, water-soluble polymer

Clears out of the body a few hours after

Molecular weight ~40-60 kDa

injection Affordable and reproducible largeProduction

scale production

Synthesis by controlled living polymerization techniques

Does not require cold

Completely synthetic material; avoid protein



survived the time course of the study. Furthermore, PolySTAT-treated rats had significantly less blood loss compared to all other control groups (6). These results suggest that PolySTAT is able recognize injury sites after intravenous injection and help to stop bleeding and increase survival rate in this animal model of trauma. In addition to use as an injectable hemostat, PolySTAT could be used in wound dressings to improve the activity of hemostatic gauze. Therefore, Suzie’s team also partnered with Dr. Tae Hee Kim’s group at the Korean Institute of Industrial Technology to integrate PolySTAT into chitosan gauze. Compared to commercially available chitosan gauze, their PolySTAT-imbued gauze showed improved efficacy in the rat femoral artery injury model; animals treated with the PolySTAT/chitosan gauze lost less blood and required less fluid resuscitation compared to animals treated with the commercially available gauze (8).

VIPER: A Non-Viral Nucleic Acid Delivery Vector Suzie and her team also work on VIPER, a nonviral nucleic acid delivery vector. Nucleic acids are a relatively new class of drugs and include oligonucleotides (such as Vitravene, an anti-viral drug that is FDA-approved for treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis), small-interfering RNA, messenger RNA, and gene therapies (such as Glybera, the first gene medicine approved for use in Europe and used to treat lipoprotein lipase deficiency). A major challenge in clinical translation of gene therapies is efficient and safe delivery, a process called “transfection.” The delivery technologies for nucleic acid drugs can be categorized into two main technology groups: viral vectors and non-viral vectors. Viral vectors are engineered viruses altered to minimize pathogenicity and insert instead therapeutic genes. Viral vectors tend to be highly efficient at gene transfer but have challenges related to safety and high cost of large



scale manufacture (9). In contrast, non-viral vectors, such as lipids and polymers, offer advantages in safety and production cost but are typically much lower in delivery efficiency, especially in complex living organisms (10). One of the critical steps in achieving efficient non-viral gene transfer is endosomal escape. Both viral and non-viral vectors are taken up into the mammalian cell via lipid-membrane encapsulated vesicles called endosomes. These endosomes ferry cargo to the lysosomes, often described as the ‘garbage disposal and recycling centers’ of cells. Thus, without efficient escape from the endosomes, the nucleic acid drugs carried by these vectors are neutralized and degraded within the lysosomes. However, endosomal escape requires selective disruption of the endosome membrane without affecting the cell membrane, which has a similar composition; disruption of the cell membrane would result in toxicity to the cell. In order to develop a synthetic delivery vector with efficient and selective endosomal membrane disruption ability, Suzie’s team designed a material that mimics the endosomal escape strategy employed by adenovirus. Adenovirus contains a membrane-active protein called protein VI that is hidden by the virus protein shell until the virus is taken into the host cell. There, the virus protein shell rearranges and exposes protein VI, which then interacts with the endosomal

membrane to facilitate release of the virus from the endosome. They therefore designed a polymer, called VIPER (Virus-Inspired Polymer for Endosomal Release), that similarly masks a membrane-active peptide. Upon sensing the endosomal environment, the polymer complex rearranges to expose the peptide, resulting in endosomal membrane destabilization and cargo release from the vesicle (11). VIPER, also synthesized by RAFT polymerization, contains two segments (Figure 3A). The first block, shown in green, is hydrophilic, or water-loving, and also positively charged for binding nucleic acid cargo. The second block, shown in pink, is hydrophobic, or water-hating, at physiological pH (pH 7.4) but that becomes hydrophilic at acidic pH (e.g., pH < 6.0). The second block is grafted with a bee venom peptide called melittin (shown as the yellow and black-striped triangle). Melittin disrupts lipid membranes and has been shown to improve gene delivery when conjugated to polymer carriers, but at the cost of cell survival (12-14). The hydrophobic sections of VIPER therefore drive self-assembly of the polymer at pH 7.4 into nanoparticles that hide both the hydrophobic polymer blocks and the membrane-disruptive melittin peptides. After entry into the cell, the VIPER nanoparticles containing gene therapies are exposed to the acidic endosomal environment. In response to the environmental

Figure 3. (A) Schematic of VIPER and chemical structure of VIPER. (B) Mechanism of VIPER assembly, cellular uptake and endosomal escape. See text for detailed explanation. Figure reproduced with permission from Wiley (11. Cheng Y, Yumul RC, Pun SH. Virus‐inspired polymer for efficient in vitro and in vivo gene delivery. Angew Chem. 128(39):1219212196; 2016.), copyright 2016.

INVENTION IS NOT AN OPTION change that occurs after cell uptake, VIPER switches characteristics, resulting in a conformational change that exposes the melittin peptide and disrupts endosomes to release VIPER and cargo to the cell cytoplasm (Figure 3B). They have shown that gene-loaded VIPER complexes are selectively membrane-disruptive in acidic environments and that these VIPER complexes are able to efficiently escape endosomes after cell entry in contrast to control polymers that lack the melittin peptide (11). VIPER is their most potent gene transfer material to date, outperforming commercially available reagents in gene transfer to cultured cells. They have demonstrated that the transfection efficiency in cultured cells ranges from ~20% for difficult-to-transfect stem cells to over 90% for certain rapidly-dividing cancer cell lines. Importantly, the team demonstrated successful gene transfer to both tumors and to the brain in animal models. They are moving forward now to use VIPER for therapeutic gene transfer in a variety of disease applications, both in their laboratory and in collaboration with other academic groups and industry. CONCLUSION While the inventions of Suzie Pun and Juan Gilbert are worlds apart, there are some important truths in the world of inventors. First, inventors can and do come from a variety of backgrounds—different fields, geographic locations, ages, genders, ethnicities, and racial groups. Second, it appears that the first thought of would-be inventors is not, “How do I become an inventor?” Instead, it is, “How do I solve this problem?” Third, teamwork is an important part of the solution. Teaming with students, fellow researchers, problem-solvers, and people with different types of expertise seems to be a prerequisite for success. Fourth, there is a “can do” attitude that turns failures into successes and challenges into opportunities and possibilities. Lastly, there is passion and dedication to making people’s lives better. Seek out inventors in your communities and at your institutions—they can show you how they are trying to change the world and how much they believe that invention is not an option.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Suzie Pun’s work was funded by the National Institutes of Health (2R01NS064404, 1R01CA177272, 1R21EB018637), the National Science Foundation (DMR 1206426) and the Washington Research Foundation. Funding for Dr. Gilbert’s work came from the National Science Foundation, voting system manufacturers, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. REFERENCES 1. Hirshon B. Voting Machines. Science Updates. AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors. 2015 Jul 31, 1:00 minutes. [accessed 2016 Oct 15]. 2. Rivest RL. On the notion of ‘software independence’ in voting systems. Phil Trans R Soc A. 366:3759-3767; 2008. 3. Murray CJL, Lopez AD. Mortality by cause for eight regions of the world: global burden of disease study. Lancet. 349(9061):1269-1276; 1997. 4. Rogers FB, Osler TM, Shackford SR, Martin F, Healey M, Pilcher D. Population-based study of hospital trauma Care in a rural state without a formal trauma system. J Trauma Injury Infect Crit Care. 50(3):409-413); 2001. 5. Myburgh JA, Mythen MG. Resuscitation fluids. N Engl J Med. 369(13):1243-1251; 2013. 6. Chan LW, Wang X, Wei H, Pozzo LD, White NJ, Pun SH. A synthetic fibrin cross-linking polymer for modulating clot properties and inducing hemostasis. Sci Transl Med. 7(277): 277ra2977ra29; 2015. 7. Branas CC, MacKenzie EJ, Williams JC, Schwab CW, Teter HM, Flanigan MC, Blatt AJ, ReVelle CS. JAMA. 293(21):2626-2633; 2005. 8. Chan LW, Kim CH, Wang X, Pun SH, White NJ, Kim TH. Polystat-modified chitosan gauzes for improved hemostasis in external hemorrhage. Acta Biomater. 31:178-185; 2016. 9. Thomas CE, Ehrhardt A, Kay MA. Progress and problems with the use of viral vectors for gene therapy. Nat Rev Genet. 4(5):346-358; 2003. 10. Pack DW, Hoffman AS, Pun SH, Stayton PS. Design and development of polymers for gene delivery. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 4(7):581-593; 2005.



11. Cheng Y, Yumul RC, Pun SH. Virusâ&#x20AC;?inspired polymer for efficient in vitro and in vivo gene delivery. Angew Chem. 128(39):12192-12196; 2016. 12. Ogris M, Carlisle RC, Bettinger T, Seymour LW. Melittin enables efficient vesicular escape and enhanced nuclear access of nonviral gene delivery vectors. J Bio Chem. 276(50):47550-47555; 2001. 13. Meyer M, Philipp A, Oskuee R, Schmidt C, Wagner E. Breathing life into polycations: functionalization with ph-responsive endosomolytic peptides and polyethylene glycol enables siRNA delivery. J Am Chem Soc. 130(11):3272; 2008. 14. Rozema DB, Ekena K, Lewis DL, Loomis AG, Wolff JA. Endosomolysis by masking of a membrane-active agent (EMMA) for cytoplasmic release of macromolecules. Bioconj Chem. 14(1):51-57; 2003 [accessed 2016 Oct 15]. http://

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 275-279, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

“WHY” VS. “WHAT,” OR “THE BAD PENNY OPERA”: GENDER AND BIAS IN SCIENCE Florence P. Haseltine1 and Mark Chodos2 Alexandria, VA, USA Temple City, CA, USA

1 2

The research of today has been shaped by how young scientists were viewed and received when starting out decades earlier. The author reflects on her personal experiences as a woman pursuing a science career and looks at contemporary contributions to innovation and science by men and women. Although women have been routinely asked “why” they wanted to enter a scientific field while men have been asked “what” field they wanted to enter, the author asserts that an objective look is revealing. An analysis of the data available on the National Academy of Inventors website demonstrates: 1) equal creativity as shown by categories of patents held by both men and women and 2) the effect of the early, and possibly continuing, bias during the careers of women in that men hold more patents than women. Key words: Gender; Invention; National Academy of Inventors

Implicit in this question was the assumption that there were other options, such as marriage, children, and a life dedicated to both. Why go to graduate school and medical school? The fact that she was as passionate about science and medicine as any man did not seem to matter much. Her brothers were also interested in scientific careers, but the question that was asked of her brothers was never “why”—why were you going to pursue this or that course?—but instead “what” they were going to do. What were they going to study? What careers were they going to pursue upon graduation? First impressions are critical; if the initial question a person has to answer is “why” and not “what,” the total interaction is dismissive. It also makes women justify—and possibly even doubt—themselves every single time. Answering the “why” question uses up

INTRODUCTION The author notes that she knew by high school in the 1950s that she wanted a scientific career, but when this wish was voiced, she was always asked not if she was qualified, but why this was her goal. The same line of questioning continued throughout her training and even into the job market. That question was always “why.” Why did she want to be a physicist? Why did she want to go to graduate school? After graduate school, the author went to medical school, and the same question came up but with a twist. “Why would she go to medical school when she already had a Ph.D.?” These questions continued at every career juncture. To date, it has never stopped being asked in one form or another although many social changes in the last half-century have modified its deadening effect. _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Florence P. Haseltine, Ph.D., M.D., Emerita Scientist, NIH, Founder, Society for Women’s Health Research, 2181 Jamieson Ave #1606, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA. Tel: 240-476-7837; Fax: 202-318-0224.




that valuable introductory time. No wonder successful women are often considered aggressive and difficult. Overcoming the verbal questioning means being abrupt with the very people who might be their colleagues in the future. Social changes in the 1980s and 1990s somewhat turned the “why” question around for the women who were able to achieve some prominence. The “why” question was muted by search committees who had to demonstrate that they had considered women for positions. But it was the concept of quotas, rather than an effort to establish what a woman had to offer, that brought the change. However, even when the “why” is unvoiced, if it comes before the “what,” a disservice is done. What follows is an assumption of no or low expectations. Frequently, when a search committee says it will not discriminate, the discussion will state that women or minority candidates (often a shorthand for nonwhite male) must be “qualified.” Has anyone heard the statement that the white males must be “qualified”? The only time qualifications are discussed in public is in the context of a white male and a minority candidate with equal qualifications. Research by Dr. Carnes et al. has examined this problem in depth (1). Both women and minorities are required to fulfill all the existing qualifications in a job description, whereas a white male will not have to have every requirement. Just being a white male is enough to satisfy the criteria. Is there ever a time when “all things being equal” really exists? If you are interviewing a candidate and are about to ask someone a “why” question, try a “what” question instead. The answer may surprise you. RECOGNITION AND AWARENESS OF EQUITY How do these observations apply to the careers of professional women today? Being a professional woman who constantly had to justify her interest in a scientific field raised the author’s concern about how women were treated in the academic world and how much progress could be expected in the near future. Reviewing not only personal experiences with a professional career but also using a neutral eye, the author noted that to make the point that progress was going to be slow, it was obvious that observations depended upon data. The data to be gathered was

simply how many men and how many women were already involved in STEMM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine). With this data, one could learn where the attention needed to be focused. Progress cannot be made overnight, and often the dynamics of the challenge for improvement would inevitably take decades (2). The induction of the author into the National Academy of Inventors was an honor she had not imagined or anticipated. As a founder of the Society for Women’s Health Research, the author and her coding partner, Mark Chodos, used the tools of technology to evaluate the success of women and the differential between men and women in the National Academy of Inventors. A project called RAISE was created at the Society using the information on the websites of relevant societies and associations. The RAISE Project database examines web pages of scientific organizations to identify individuals who win awards and then identify the sex and gender of the winners. The RAISE Project database now has more than 70,000 cited honors for 375 organizations and over 2,200 awards (3). It was valuable to look at not only the research done on women’s health but also on the scientific workforce involved in this effort. A recent paper from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) evaluated patents from the most highly innovative companies. The paper reported that 12% of the innovators were women and 35% of the innovators were immigrants, with another 10% being children of immigrants (4). By the 2016 meeting of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), it seemed reasonable to examine whether these statistics held true for the NAI. Knowing that the websites existed, the next step was to use a technique called “web scraping” to access the extensive information contained on these websites. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a user interface that allows searching for patents by name and also by number for those patents issued after 1976. To do this, scripts were written in python that collected all the patents and exported to a MySQL database.



Table 1. Distribution of Patents by Members of the NAI

Number of Patents



1->10 11->20 21->30 31->40 41->50 51->60 61->80 81->100 100->129 130->150 151->200 201->900

153 107 74 15 29 23 24 14 17 7 8 11

38 17 2 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1

The data is divided into groups and displays the number of individuals by sex in each group. The number of men is 518 and the number of women is 64. The mean number of patents for men is 20 patents and for women is 9 patents.

Table 1 shows the distribution of patents among members of the NAI. Of the 582 members, 518 are men and 64 (11%) are women. The total number of patents identified was 21,247. The range of patents is from 1 to 898 with a mean of 19 to 20 patents for the men and 9 for the women. Unlike the paper from ITIF, we do not know the immigration status of the members. It is apparent that women do have fewer patents than men do. The next question was whether they had patents in different areas than men. To answer that question, each patent was queried, again using the patent database and the broad international categories extracted. Figure 1 shows the percentage of the patents in each category and their distribution by International Patent Classification (5). Here, we see that both men and women basically patent in the same areas. The NAI admits members from research institutions. The data does not seem to differ from the sex ratio of scientists in the innovative companies that the ITIF examined.

Figure 1. The percentage of patents issued to men and women viewed by the International Patent Classification category definitions. Categories: A - Human Necessities; B - Performing Operations, Transporting; C - Chemistry, Metallurgy; D - Textiles, Paper; E- Fixed Constructions; F - Mechanical Engineering, Lighting, Heating, Weapons, Blasting; G - Physics; H - Electricity.

It is still to be determined how many of these patents should be credited to more than one individual. Moreover, errors in the data presented can be attributed to misspelled names and other common data glitches. CONCLUSION So, a great deal has been learned, but the question remains: When will more women enter the innovative space and their contributions start to change? Awareness of the challenges is critical. It is impossible to miss the news stories and articles in scientific journals about the challenges that women and minorities face (6). However, as the number of women becoming innovators increases, they will no longer be isolated, and their actions will be considered normal. Being part of a group is enough justification for why a person is doing something without having to be asked why (1). Evaluation of the sex distribution of many awards given for distinction in a field shows that women are starting to be recognized, and evaluation of a large number of awards, as has been done in the RAISE Project (3), shows that there was a change that started to occur in 1995. It is not surprising that it occurred at the same time that women started to become presidents of organizations. Figure 2, showing Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) prizes and awards, is just one example of an organization to which many of our NAI members belong. The



Figure 2. The number of men and women who have received awards from the IEEE. The data is from 63 awards that have been given since 1981. Data retrieved from

RAISE Project database and website have many other examples of science organizations, and viewers can examine data on how an organization recognizes its women. The graphing of this data makes it easy to see trends and compare different fields, as few presentations can make a case better than visualizing information when illustrating inequalities. Today, there are more questions about coding than why a woman wants to be a scientist. It is hoped that the young girls in middle school and beyond find out how much fun math and science is and how much information they can have going forward if they do choose to pursue these areas. It is to be hoped they learn that data is the key, and, when they can compile it themselves, they will have the upper hand in any argument.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Anna Chodos, daughter who faces many academic obstacles; Alan Chodos; Molly Carnes, professor at the University of Wisconsin; and Adams Nager, economic policy analyst at ITIF. REFERENCES 1. Carnes M, Devine P, Manwell LB, Byars-Winston A, Fine E, Ford CE, Forscher P, Isaac C, Kaatz A, Magua W, Palta M, Sheridan J. The effect of an intervention to break the gender bias habit for faculty at one institution: a cluster randomized, controlled trial. Acad Med. (Philadelphia). 90(2):221-30; 2015 2. Haseltine FP. Womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s promotions: glass ceiling efforts. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 3(4):251253; 1994.

“WHY” VS. “WHAT” 3.




RAISE Project: a project of the Society for Women’s Health Research. Data from the awards in our database. Washington (DC): Society for Women’s Health Research; c2016 [2016 Nov 15]. Nager A, Hart D, Ezell S, Atkinson RD. The demographics of innovation in the United States. Washington (DC): ITIF; 2016 Feb 24 [2016 Oct 15]. [WIPO] World Intellectual Property Organization. International patent classification. [accessed 2016 Oct 15]. Kantor R. Men and women of the corporation. New York (NY): Basic Books; 1977. Chapter 8, Numbers: minorities and majorities; p. 206-242


Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 281-283, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

FELLOWS KEYNOTE ADDRESS Andrew Hirshfeld United States Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, VA, USA

Speech delivered before the National Academy of Inventors Induction Ceremony (Printed from a live transcription, edited for clarity)

to address the NAI Fellows. For me, I was trying to think how to express in words what it feels like to meet many of you—I met some last night and at prior times—and I couldn’t really find what that feeling was like, but then it hit me: This is like when I was a child and my father took me to Yankee Stadium, and I got to meet the ballplayers I idolized and looked up to. That’s the same kind of feeling that I have when I meet all of you. You inspire me, and you awe me. I have been at the USPTO for 21 years, and I have been working in various roles to support people like you. It becomes so real to me when I see all the great work that you’re doing. It’s just absolutely overwhelming. So I owe you all a huge thank you. Your work saves lives and enhances the quality of our lives. It drives our economy. It spurs additional research and innovation. And you teach our children. For me, that’s important to always keep in mind because it puts everything we do at the USPTO into perspective. We are here to support this system, and at the heart of the system are the wonderful inventors whose works we’re trying to protect; that is all of you. I know you’ve heard many of the stats about the NAI Fellows, but I wanted to go through them again because they awe and inspire me. Our current inductees include six Nobel laureates, seven recipients of the National Medal of Technology & Innovation, and three inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Over half of the members

United States Patent and Trademark Office Alexandria, Virginia April 15, 2016 Good afternoon everybody, and thank you Liz for that extremely kind introduction. I also want to say thank you to the NAI for having me partake in today’s events. It is certainly an honor to be able to do so. I also want to thank the NAI for having me participate in the 2015 Fellows Selection Committee. That was quite an honor for me. Our new class of NAI Fellows is a phenomenal group of academics who lead our way into the future. I’m honored to be working with the NAI and to be here with all of you today, and it has been extremely gratifying for the USPTO to watch the NAI grow into one of the foremost organizations that promote the development of inventions by emphasizing the role of patents. The roles of the NAI and the USPTO are certainly complementary, and our goals are the same. And that is to support and improve the patent system. Today, I wanted to talk with you all about some USPTO initiatives that we believe will help support the patent system. But, before I do, I really wanted _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Andrew Hirshfeld, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA. E-mail: andrew.hirshfeld@




belong to the Academy of Arts and Sciences. Additionally, the class averages 32 issued patents per person. I’m going to say that again: 32 issued patents per person. That is absolutely staggering. On that note, I need to thank you also for the job security that you have given me at the USPTO. There are 582 Fellows that represent 190 universities and governments or nonprofit research institutions across the world. Together, those individuals hold 20,000 U.S. patents. Absolutely amazing. Before I dive into the USPTO initiatives, I also wanted to talk about perspective. It is all your great work that we are trying to help support, and that has been the basis of our patent system. At the USPTO, we pride ourselves on the quality of work that we do, and we pride ourselves on continuing to improve that quality. As public servants, we should always be striving to do better, to better support inventors like yourselves and of the next generations. Now I’m going to talk about some of our initiatives, and I want to start with our ALLinSTEM program, which was announced last year by our director, Michelle Lee. The ALLinSTEM program was announced to increase the involvement of women and girls in STEM, from early education to corporate board rooms. One of the main points of this initiative is to highlight successful female role models in the sciences and change the conversation about STEM being a male-dominated field. I will tell you, personally, that I met my wife in engineering school, and I joked around that I had married a third of the women in the engineering class. I feel very confident, though, that times are changing. Tonight’s inductees include 22 women. I’m sure that number will grow, but it’s certainly a sign that we’re headed in the right direction. I guarantee those 22 inductees will inspire more young women to pursue careers in STEM. I’m also the father of three daughters, and I know they will be inspired by the stories that I am about to tell. I’d also like to point out that we are very proud of the diversity we have and the roles that women play at USPTO. You’ve heard me mention our director, who is in charge of the entire agency, Michelle Lee. But there are many other prominent roles that women play at the USPTO. For example, our current Commissioner for Trademarks, our General Counsel, our chief policy

officer and director for international affairs, three of the four directors of our regional offices, and our deputy commissioner for patent quality. All women. That’s just to name a few. As you can see, we have women in very prominent roles at USPTO. Prior to when I became commissioner, the previous commissioner was also a female. And at that time of the agency, I think it was of course the only time, where we had the director who was in charge of the agency, and both commissioners—the one over patents and the one over trademarks—being females. That’s something to be very proud of. I’m going to switch now to the Enhanced Patent Quality initiative, and I spoke a couple minutes ago about our goal to constantly improve. I know that I’m here with a large number of academics, so you understand what I’m talking about, about constant improvement. Michelle Lee announced the enhanced patent quality initiative in late 2014. The goal behind this initiative, at least from my perspective, was a way to challenge all of us at the USPTO to self-improve and to ask ourselves, “What can we do to make everything that you do better? How can we better support the patent system?” As a career person, I give Michelle an awful lot of credit because she has come to us and said, “Do whatever you need to. I want to know about it. I want to hear about it. I want you to have the freedom to make the choices you need to make. And I can tell you, as an employee, what better challenge can you have than for your boss to say, “Whatever you need to do your job better, you can have.” That’s an absolutely wonderful position to be in. So this is our way of driving self-improvement. We started with three pillars that we focused on for improving patent quality. They were: excellence in work products and services, excellence in measuring patent quality, and excellence in customer service. As you can see, that’s very sweeping, but we wanted to have a significant focus. We’ve also attacked this by working very closely with the public. It was just over a year ago that we had a public summit, in this room, and we had many people over two days come and learn about what we were proposing and our potential steps forward. We had well over 2,000 comments from that summit. We also had numerous federal register notices where we asked the public to comment on some ideas we had, and we got feedback from our own employees

FELLOWS KEYNOTE ADDRESS internally. We took all of this feedback and created 11 programs. Those programs vary from the way we collect our data to the way we train our examiners to changes in the way we might examine a patent application, for example. They’re wide-ranging, and there are certainly too many to get into today, but you all can get more information about this if you are interested from our website, or you can contact me, and I will make sure the right people chat with you—or I will chat with you—about them. But I did want to focus on one theme that permeates all of these programs and that has to do with clarity. We are taking steps at the USPTO, such as I have never seen in my 21 years, to make sure that our examiners are very clear in what they do in their office actions. And it might sound like a trivial step forward, but we all know how challenging inventions are—they’re very complex—and we all know how challenging the laws are. If you put that together, we believe that there’s often a disconnect between the USPTO, when looking at a case, and the applicants who file a case. So we’re taking steps to have examiners be very clear. We’re doing this in our training, and we’re doing this in every other way that we can think of. If we can be clearer, then it will make prosecution easier on all of the wonderful inventors like you. We also think issuing patents with clearer boundaries will allow competitors to look at the patent and know exactly what is covered and make educated business decisions. For example: “Should I seek a license, or should I try to design around this patent?” Clarity will be better for applicants because you will probably reduce litigation if your patent rights are


clearer. So this has been a significant focus of ours. When I talked about Michelle giving us the freedom to really see how we can attack this without limits, I wanted to talk about a pilot program that we have where we’re actually giving examiners more time to do their job, to focus on steps of clarity. Again, that might sound trivial, but we have over 8,400 examiners, and they do an awful lot of cases. As we all know, time is money, and so it is a step that, to my understanding, we have never taken at PTO. We have given more time to examiners for various issues, but we’ve never given them time and said, “We want you to be clearer in what you do.” We’re testing that out now to see how impactful and how helpful it can be. So these are some of ways that we’re addressing clarity, and, in the big picture, we’re really addressing the question: “How do we self-improve and make ourselves the best that we can be?” I’m going to close with where I started: It’s all about perspectives. There are people like me; I started as an examiner, and I’ve held a variety of jobs, but I’ve always tried to support people like you and the improvements that we can make together. I think we will do an even better job as we progress. With that, I want to say thank you and congratulations to all of you. You are inspiring, and you help everyone move forward in a positive way. Thank you very, very much. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Produced by the United States Patent and Trademark Office; no copyright is claimed by the United States in this speech or associated materials.

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 285-294, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA 2 Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA 3 Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA 4 National Academy of Inventors, Tampa, FL, USA

In a recent interview with T&I, distinguished professor, scientist, and anesthesiologist Dr. Emery N. Brown discusses his most recent work and shares his thoughts on the unexpected joys of practicing anesthesiology, his unlikely entrée into the world of neuroscience, and the importance of being the first African-American in all three national academies.

INTRODUCTION Technology and Innovation (T&I) is pleased to present Dr. Emery N. Brown—statistician, neuroscientist, and anesthesiologist—as the subject of this issue’s NAI Fellow Profile. Brown is Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School and Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Brown holds a B.A. in applied mathematics (magna cum laude) from Harvard College, an M.D. from Harvard Medical School (magna cum laude), and an M.A. and Ph.D. in statistics from Harvard University. After completing an internship in internal medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a residency in anesthesiology at MGH, he joined the faculty first at Harvard Medical School and later at MIT, becoming the only person to hold endowed professorships at

(photo courtesy of Emery Brown)

_____________________ Accepted November 30, 2016. Profiled Inventor: Emery N. Brown, MD, PhD, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Room 46-6079A, Cambridge, MA 0213, USA. Corresponding Author: Kimberly A. Macuare, PhD, Assistant Editor, Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors® at the USF Research Park, 3702 Spectrum Boulevard, Suite 165, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.Tel: +1 (813) 974-1347; E-mail:




both institutions, one of his many unique accomplishments. The author of over 180 articles and inventor on 18 issued or pending U.S. and foreign patents, Brown is a pioneer in the understanding of how anesthetic agents affect the brain and has opened up important new territory for exploration in neuroscience. The breadth and innovativeness of his work is evident in the many awards he has received, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award, an NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award, and the 2011 Jerome Sacks Award for Outstanding Cross Disciplinary Research from the National Institute of Statistical Science. He is also one of the very select group who has been elected to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Brown, an anesthesiologist-statistician, has successfully brought to bear his talents in medicine and statistics to investigate the neurophysiology of anesthesia and develop signal-processing algorithms to analyze neuroscience data. Using imaging technology and statistical methodology, Brown has shown that anesthetic drugs cause strong oscillations in the brain that interrupt communication among its different regions. In addition to offering scientists a better understanding of drug and brain dynamics, Brown’s research has exciting implications for clinical practice, including the ability to give lower and thus safer doses of anesthetic agents to older patients and to awaken patients more quickly from the anesthetic state. Dr. Brown graciously agreed to an interview with T&I, discussing his most recent work and sharing his thoughts on the unexpected joys of practicing anesthesiology, his unlikely entrée into the world of neuroscience, and the importance of being the first African-American in all three national academies. INTERVIEW T&I: Please tell us about some of the current research projects you are working on. Brown: Well, I think the main thing that we are working on is trying to get a detailed understanding of the neurophysiology of how anesthesia works. So we know now, as I mentioned in my presentation, that it is clear that the drugs are creating oscillations. There

is accumulating evidence to show that these highly structured oscillations are keeping the different parts of the brain from communicating. The structure of the oscillations differs systematically with different anesthetic drug classes due to binding to different receptors and affecting the neural circuits differently. The oscillations also change systematically with age. I divide our work into two categories: The first is how can we improve patient care requiring general anesthesia given the current levels of technology? How can you optimize it? Assume that we are not going to produce anything new, there are no innovations, and that we have to make do with what we have. The second category is the obvious one: What can we create that is new? When I look at the first category, there are four things we can do. We can use the electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor patients better, and, because we monitor them better, we can more carefully dose the drugs. Second, we can develop control systems to help us control precisely the anesthetic states of the brain. If we have automated systems that can drive cars, why can’t we have computer-controlled systems that help us monitor patients and dose anesthetics through feedback control continuously in real time? That is, we can create the autopilot, if you would, for the anesthesiologist. The third is coming up with ways to turn the brain back on given that it’s turned off under anesthesia. We term this active induction of emergence from anesthesia as reanimation. Under anesthesia, the brain is turned off in a way that is so unnatural. In other words, these oscillations that I showed in my talk are not things that your brain normally does. Once you realize that, it’s no surprise that your brain doesn’t really work after general anesthesia. The ideas I was expressing in my talk about using Ritalin or finding other agents that actually activate the brain and help people come back and be clear and highly functional as soon as possible after anesthesia are not only desirable but quite feasible. We are now conducting a phase II clinical trial testing this idea using Ritalin. The fourth part is working out strategies to deliver anesthesia with less dependence on opioids. I’m sure you’re aware of the tremendous crisis or epidemic we’re having with the use of opioids in the country now. One of the things that is contributing to that is that we’ve been very singular in our approach to treating pain. We’ve really just used one approach up to now, which is administering opioids. The pain system has many

THE NAI PROFILE receptors, many circuits, and the fact that we are having this problem now, this overuse, is related directly to the fact that we haven’t been very creative about developing alternatives. There are alternatives that are out there that, when put together, could allow us to have the same level of care, or arguably even better care, with a much reduced risk of long-term dependence, overdose, and addiction. I think it’s totally tractable, and some of it can be done by repurposing some of the drugs that we already have. What I like about these four approaches under category one is that they are sufficiently new. However, they are well within reach—maybe within two to five years if not sooner. They just involve drugs and approaches that we have at hand right now and already know about. The second category is: As we learn more about the brain and how it functions, what we eventually want is to have targeted ways of producing anesthesia in which we inactivate or activate very specific sites. This would give us site-specific control for induction and maintenance of anesthesia as well as for reemergence from general anesthesia. T&I: So, in thinking about the trajectory of anesthesiology, what would you say has been the greatest innovation heretofore? Brown: To be honest, I think the great innovation was actually general anesthesia itself. It is 170 years old now; October 16, 1846, was when it was first publicly demonstrated here at Mass General, and we celebrated the 170th anniversary this year. That was totally transformative. Surgery was basically transformed from being inhumane butchery into a useful therapeutic and diagnostic option. Also, now there are all of these noninvasive procedures that we can do thanks to anesthesia. Therefore, if we take all of the innovations that have happened in surgery, they would not exist were it not for general anesthesia. I think anesthesia itself was a major transformative innovation. There’s a lot of science on anesthesiology. However, a large part of the progress has been through empiricism. The specialty is viewed as a field of applied pharmacology. The approach in our research and in my clinical practice is to view anesthesiology as a field of clinical neuroscience because the drugs act in the brain and in the central nervous system. Had this perspective on anesthesiology been adopted by anesthesiologists, we probably would have had a lot


more innovations in our hands and in practice right now. If you look at the things that have made anesthesia safer in the last few years, one of the major innovations was 30 years ago when Jeff Cooper and company at Mass General decided to set monitoring standards for patients receiving anesthesia care. The standards said things that now just seem so obvious but, in retrospect, were not required at the time. Anesthesiologists have to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide production, oxygen delivery, anesthetic gas delivery, and temperature. This simply means to basically follow the patient’s physiology on a second-to-second basis. These standards were accepted by the Harvard hospitals in 1985 and a year later by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Substantial improvements in care came about by just implementing basic monitoring guidelines. There hasn’t been that “thing” that has just radically changed practice, if you will. Some people may disagree, but I haven’t seen it. I think that’s the sort of thing that could now possibly come about as we look more into the neuroscience of anesthesia. T&I: I was thinking when I listened to your talk that maybe this could be the next frontier. Brown: I really think so because look—among all those requirements to monitor, what has not been required is monitoring the brain. We don’t have to monitor the brain. We monitor all the other physiological indicators with the exception of the brain, yet the most profound effects of anesthesia are in the brain and the central nervous system. T&I: It seems counterintuitive. Brown: Completely counterintuitive, but it speaks directly to the empirical nature of what we do. This is also due to the fact that anesthesiology is viewed as a subfield of pharmacology and not a subfield of clinical neuroscience. As soon as you acknowledge that anesthesia acts in the brain and in the central nervous system, the importance of monitoring the brain becomes obvious. T&I: Moving on from the history of anesthesiology to your own personal history: You’re so driven as a doctor and scientist, and I was wondering if there was any event or person or persons that motivated you to pursue science and medicine. That is, what or who influenced you to pursue science and medicine?



Did you have any early formative experiences that pushed you in that direction? Brown: I think probably the most significant influences were my parents. Both of my parents were high school math teachers, so science and math were always being discussed around the house. I kind of grew up with the idea of becoming a doctor not so much because there was somebody in my family who was a doctor, but it was always something I wanted to do. It dates back probably to when I was a young kid, around six or seven, and I used to go often to my pediatrician. I remember my pediatrician because I always felt so good after I left him. It is rather ironic because my pediatrician’s name was Dr. Butscher (pronounced “butcher”). He was this happy, jovial guy, and I thought, “This is cool.” One thing that really used to fascinate me, and I remember the first time I got to do it in medical school, was when he would percuss my back—you know, tap with his fingers—to see if I had congestion in my lungs. It just seemed like the coolest thing, so I think those sets of experience got me interested in medicine. Through the first part of college, even though I was thinking of going into medicine, I started off majoring in romance languages. I entered Harvard College with my fortés being French and Spanish. I majored initially in romance languages and eventually switched into applied mathematics in my junior year after having exposure to economics and then to statistics. As a consequence of taking an economics course and then realizing that statistics was so fascinating, I just wanted to do statistics. So, I switched and completed the major in applied mathematics. I had to take three applied math or statistics courses in each of the last four semesters to complete the requirements. It was great. I enjoyed every second of it! Then I went and studied math for a year in Grenoble at the Fourier Institute for Applied Mathematics to round out my math background because I wanted to come back and do an M.D. / Ph.D., and I wanted to do my Ph.D. in statistics. That was the beginning of my interest in statistics. I must admit that one of the people who was very impressive to watch as a statistician and as a scientist was Fred Mosteller, who founded the Harvard statistics department. He was this incredibly clear thinker who was quite adept at getting groups of people to do interdisciplinary research. He was a true giant.

T&I: Regarding your reference to your dual training, you have degrees in medicine and statistics. What is the relationship between those two areas? How do they inform each other with respect to your work? Is it a natural “marriage” of disciplines? Brown: I think there is. I think it is very, very natural. If you think of statistics as the science of making decisions under uncertainty, and what you do as a physician when you’re taking care of patients is to try to make the best guess at what the disease process is given the data that you observe. The science of statistics is a process we apply all the time as physicians. I can honestly say, though, when I did statistics and when I trained as a physician, and more specifically as an anesthesiologist, I did not have a plan to link them. I just did what I tell students to do: Do the things that you really like to do, and you’re going to have the most fun and that’s where you’re going to be the most productive and the most creative. That’s essentially what I did, and for many years, I practiced anesthesiology not really caring about how the drugs worked or what the mechanisms were. I was just trying to be as good a clinician as I could be. I would then go off to my research laboratory and work on developing new statistical methods to analyze neuroscience data. There was no marriage; in fact, in some respects, it was almost like night and day. However, the more I worked in neuroscience, the more I realized that the neuroscience ideas could be brought in to study mechanisms of anesthesia. As I started doing more of my own experiments and generating my own data, the need to collaborate with people to work on their data drastically diminished. Instead, I worked on the data that we were collecting in my own experiments, which was accumulating exponentially. Out of that, the marriage for what I was doing was created. This is because the area of statistics I needed to analyze our EEG readings, local field potential, and neural spike trains was time series analysis, which is the study of data generated by dynamic processes. This was now serendipity because this was my area of expertise in statistics. One of the fascinating things that we found, as I mentioned at the outset, was that the brain is highly dynamic under anesthesia. Ultimately, making inferences from data is really what medicine is all about. This has become a little more apparent now that the buzzword “big data” has

THE NAI PROFILE come into being. It was always the case and always will be the case. Arguably, there should be a lot more people who are dually trained, perhaps as I am. There should be a lot more emphasis on training in statistics for physicians and for society in general because ignorance of statistics is a huge problem. It’s a key intellectual bottleneck—the lack of understanding of statistics—and it is one we will have to overcome if we really want to makes some real advances in medicine and all areas of science, engineering, and social science. T&I: Although it is one of the most popular specialties, anesthesiology is not customarily the first specialty that comes to mind. Why do you think that is? Brown: It’s not viewed as sexy. People don’t go to the hospital to get anesthesia. They go for something else, and then they need anesthesia. Anesthesiologists have become—partially out of our own doing—the butt of jokes. We often hear, “You knock people out” or “You pass gas.” We have added to that because of what we in anesthesiology commonly say to patients. Anesthesiologists tell the public that we don’t know how anesthesia works, and now, of course, I think nothing could be further from the truth. But we also say: “Don’t worry; it’s safe.” And then we say other things like, “We will put you to sleep,” Anesthesia is certainly not sleep; rather, it is a drug induced reversible coma. If we anesthesiologists do not understand exactly what anesthesia is and we are not excited about our discipline, no one else is going to be excited about it. But as soon as we start saying that anesthesiology is a cool specialty, things change. I now have high school students writing me because they are interested in anesthesia and want to come and work in the laboratory or go to the operating room with me to observe. I regularly get questions from the lay public about anesthesia. I had not seen this level of public energy before. This interest reflects now how we treat the specialty. We anesthesiologists have only ourselves to blame for the fact that such interest has not existed before.


Brown: I was really attracted by another aspect of it that we haven’t really talked that much about. Anesthesiology is even more intriguing and exciting to me now, given all of the stuff that’s going on in the brain, but anesthesiology was still cool just doing it even before I gained all these insights into how its neuroscience mechanisms work. Anesthesiology is real-time physiology. We are dealing with controlling physiological systems so that a patient can tolerate what would otherwise be an unbearable traumatic insult. Things happen in real time, and you have to fix them in real time. If someone stops breathing or starts bleeding or if a lung gets punctured, you have to be able to handle these problems quickly. You have to diagnose them and act upon them quickly. This is very exhilarating. Hence, anesthesiology always had the challenge of managing real-time physiology and pharmacology. Now, if you add the third component, which is the really cool neuroscience, then, intellectually, anesthesiology becomes an extremely inviting specialty. The other thing is that in anesthesiology we have to work with both our heads and our hands when

T&I: When you chose anesthesiology, were you attracted at all by the mysterious nature? What were your reasons for choosing anesthesiology as your specialty? (photo courtesy of Emery Brown)



you are giving anesthesia care. One other aspect of our specialty is that anesthesiologists are one of the last repositories of whole body physiology. By that I mean, classic physiology has gone the way of the dinosaur as emphasis in medicine has transitioned into ideas of computational, systems, and molecular biology. Attempts are made to reduce many medical problems or diseases to small scales and atomistic elements. The body, however, functions by systems that work on a physiological scale. Anesthesiologists have to worry about all the physiological systems because we take care of the whole patient when someone’s under anesthesia in the operating room or in the intensive care unit. That unique position is never going to disappear. If you couple this with brain science, as I just said, anesthesiology is a far more fascinating specialty going forward. T&I: Your line of inquiry regarding anesthesia and the brain is so innovative and unexpected if you only consider our traditional definition of anesthesiology. What initially motivated you to begin thinking about the workings of the brain under anesthesia? Did you have an Archimedean eureka moment? If so, what was it? Brown: I don’t know if it was that, but there was a series of things that kept happening, and, after a while, I realized that the force of the evidence or the momentum of the situations was pushing me in a certain direction. I was practicing as an anesthesiologist even though my research was in statistics. I was getting a lot of clinical experience in the practice of anesthesiology. One thing that bothered me to no end was that there were a lot of what I call “legal fiction” explanations for things in anesthesiology. That is, there were many concepts that I knew made no sense but that I didn’t really have time to investigate myself. These were things that I called “board factoids”—things that you have to learn to pass your anesthesiology board examination but you probably will never use when you practice in actuality and that, in point of fact, probably weren’t even right. This was really annoying. People would quote these factoids as if they were truths when you knew that they could just not be true. But I was trapped because unless I was investigating them, it was hard to argue against them, or I would just be creating another opinion not supported necessarily by compelling evidence or research.

Over time, my frustration with these factoids began to build up, and then a couple of things happened. A colleague of mine, Lee Kearse, was going to do studies to image patients under anesthesia. This was the coolest thing. This was 20-some years ago, and, at the time, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was only maybe three or four years old. I told him that I wanted to help him with this. Shortly after we began planning the study, Lee came to me and said, “Emery, this is all you. I’m out of here. I’m going to business school.” I was like: I know nothing about imaging and very little about neuroscience. Therefore, I was left holding the bag. I decided to push on with it, and this is where serendipity starts. The people at the Mass General Imaging Center, particularly Director Bruce Rosen, thought it was a cool idea and offered to help. They provided their expertise and free imaging time. I found Patrick Purdon, an extremely talented graduate student—now my colleague—who decided he wanted to take on imaging patients under anesthesia for his Ph.D. dissertation. In addition, when I talked to my anesthesiology colleagues about this idea, they just volunteered to help, so we put together a team. We had no funding for any of this research at the time. We arranged our schedules to have our days out of the operating room coincide so that we could anesthetize volunteer subjects in the imaging center, which was not in the main part of the hospital. Our goal was to simultaneously conduct fMR imaging and record EEG in volunteer subjects who were gradually anesthetized and allowed to emerge. The imaging center is actually in Charlestown, a good mile and a half away, so we had to create a situation where it was safe to conduct these studies. It took us the better part of four years to get this study approved by the Mass General Human Research Committee. This got me going, and then I realized something, which was probably my small eureka moment. The small eureka moment was that, as anesthesiologists, who is better to do clinical studies than us because we basically monitor physiology all the time in patients. Every patient is basically a clinical study in a sense. So, if anything, we were already trained to do this, but we did not regularly use our skills to do this type of research. What took the study to another level was that we figured out that the study subjects were going to be people with tracheostomies. The reason we did that is because when a patient becomes unconscious under anesthesia, he/she generally stops breathing.



If a subject had a tracheostomy, we could put in a tracheostomy tube and attach the breathing circuit to it before we started the anesthesia so that, once he/ she lost consciousness, we could continue ventilation manually. This was the most challenging study that the Mass General Human Research Committee had ever approved. We had tremendous redundancy and safety, and this is where being young and a little bit intrepid is helpful because this was the most stressful thing I have ever done. However, when we got the first subject through the protocol, it was just amazing! We did a total of seven combined fMRI/EEG studies. All of the human studies we have done since then have seemed quite simple by comparison. They have been studies in which we only measure EEG, or we measure EEG, local field potentials, and neural spike trains from epilepsy patients implanted with electrodes. This was going back to 2004 to 2008. That experience, if you would, gave me confidence to continue. This was coupled with one other thing. Remember there were all those things in anesthesiology that I said were not true or that I wanted to understand better? I kept a list of them. Finally, I sat down and used them to write a review article about anesthesia, “General Anesthesia, Sleep, and Coma,” which I published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010. I wanted to compare anesthesia to sleep and coma explicitly because we often say sleep to patients to be diplomatic in how we describe what is going to happen to them when they are given anesthesia. Rather than being sleep, though, general anesthesia is a drug-induced reversible coma.

him. He moved a little bit. I did it a second time and eventually a third time over the span of about 20 minutes, maybe a little longer, and eventually he started to move, and he made a posture that’s called decorticate posturing. Classically you see this when someone is in a profound coma, the brain is herniating, and the brainstem is significantly compromised. The next thing we noticed, literally a minute later, is that he was wide-awake. What was happening was the opposite of what happens when someone goes into a coma. For coma, people go to progressively deeper degrees of loss of arousal. What I saw with the patient was coma played in reverse. Now that’s what waking up from anesthesia is in general. However, because of these body postures, if I had not told you that this guy was under anesthesia, you would’ve thought that his brainstem was herniating. So, for a brief moment, the anesthesia simulated the herniating brain. It’s just wild. I have a whole cadre of anecdotes like that. These experiences start to give us insights into how the anesthesia is working in the brain. What it is telling you there is that the anesthesia had his brainstem profoundly shut down still. I think it’s these types of insights that blow me away, and they are not uncommon. Anesthesiologists can see something like this almost every day—if we pay attention.

T&I: There has been so much that you have found that has been exciting and exhilarating. Has there been anything in your research on the brain and anesthesia that you find surprising or even unsettling?

Brown: That’s a very good question, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I do ponder some aspect of this almost every day. Anesthesia is clearly a brain and central nervous system phenomenon. If you look at what has happened historically, anesthesiologists have taught ourselves how to administer anesthesia without watching the brain. The natural question is: “Why do I need to know anything about the brain? I’ve been doing all this without it.” If anesthesiologists never look at the EEG during general anesthesia or look at the neural circuit mechanisms of how anesthetics work and there are no guidelines to aid/encourage use of the EEG, then this perspective will never change. Until there are requirements to track the brain or until the educational programs (www.anesthesiaeeg. com) for anesthesiologists have as part of them the

Brown: I don’t know if it’s really unsettling, but as you pay closer and closer attention to patients as they go through the different anesthetic states, you get brief windows into how the brain and central nervous system are working. Six or seven years ago, I had a patient who was very slow to wake up from anesthesia. Everybody was getting concerned that perhaps something had happened, such as a stroke. The anesthetic agent had been off for a while. I was examining him, and he wasn’t breathing yet. I took a suction catheter and passed it down his endotracheal tube and stimulated

T&I: In your talk at the NAI Annual Conference, you mentioned the difficulty in training anesthesiologists to consider the brain, as they often view themselves as practicing pharmacology rather than neuroscience. Why are they resistant? Where does that resistance originate? How do you overcome that?



neuroscience that we are teaching, use of neuroscience in anesthesia care is not going to change because anesthesiologists can practice as they have without taking account of what we are saying. I think one of the things that will help drive this change is as we start to show that neuroscience is not just an intellectual exercise, but that it changes practice. That is, patients get better care, older patients get less drugs, you know where patient’s brains are at all times when you are taking care of them. As anesthesiologists have more and more of these experiences, the tide will hopefully swing. The other thing is that it may require the implementation of guidelines to oblige anesthesiologists to move in this direction, just as the monitoring guidelines established in 1986 obliged us to monitor vital signs. We may require something similar for brain state monitoring. The reticence on the part of anesthesiologists stems also from an intellectual barrier. The brain is viewed as complex, and the EEG is viewed as something that is complicated to understand and too hard to read. The perception has been made worse in anesthesiology by EEG-based indices, which have been created to track brain states under anesthesia, but in so doing have oversimplified what is needed to track the brain states of patients. As expected, these oversimplifications broke down. Anesthesiologists hear us recommend use of the unprocessed EEG and its spectrogram to monitor the anesthetic state. Unlike the empirically derived indices, our monitoring paradigm is based on our neuroscience understanding of anesthetic-specific patterns we have identified for each agent and how these patterns change with anesthetic dose and age. If they do not take time to appreciate how our monitoring paradigm works, then it may appear superficially as just the next index that is going to break down in a few years as did all of the others. There’s a skepticism based on perceptions that are not correct. The EEG of a patient under anesthesia has the highest signal-to-noise ratio of all of the applications of the EEG in human neuroscience. This is because under general anesthesia the anesthetics induce oscillations that are 5 to 20 times larger in amplitude than the normal awake EEG. In addition, because patients are immobile under anesthesia, there is also no movement artifact. If we cannot use the EEG to monitor the brain states under anesthesia, then it cannot be used for any other application in which the signal-to-noise ratio is much larger.

All these forces, most of which are sociological, are impairing adoption of our monitoring paradigm. If you talk to the residents, who generally have no biases one way or the other, our neuroscience paradigm seems very plausible. They think, “I just finished learning neuroscience in medical school, and this is simply an application of what I learned there.” We will also have to make our educational materials broadly available to encourage training in our monitoring paradigm. To this end, in addition to our lectures at meetings and at anesthesiology departments around the country and across the world, we will continue to expand our materials at T&I: What was it like to be tapped for President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative Working Group? What have been the most exciting results to emerge from that work? Brown: It was an honor to be one of the neuroscientists selected by the NIH Director to guide this important effort. I was thrilled about that, and it was quite an experience. Over the course of 15 months, we heard from a very significant cross-section of neuroscientists regarding what they thought were the important issues to work on. We stayed focused on our mandate, which was to come up with ways to foster the development of tools that would enable neuroscientists to better study the brain. We got to think about what those tools should be and how they should be targeted. Although most of the work will be done in animal models, we added a special emphasis on human neuroscience to encourage the development of research teams to work specifically in this challenging but critical area. It was a great responsibility to have. I was talking a few weeks ago with Terry Sejnowski, one of my fellow members on the working group. He commented that of all the things that he has written, our report, Brain 2025, is probably the publication that has had the most impact. I’m sure that is the case for me as well. The report is widely cited, and many have turned to it for guidance. T&I: How has the BRAIN initiative impacted university research? Brown: NSF, NIH, and DARPA have put aside funds earmarked specifically for the Brain Initiative. This encourages people to come together and work on these problems, to form groups that may never have worked on these topics before. Hence, this is very, very good. The money that was put aside in the first



year was only $110 million, which is a very small amount. It was designed to be catalytic, and then, as a consequence, encourage other organizations, such as private foundations, to help out. The Kavli Foundation is a good example of a private foundation that has undertaken efforts to spur research that will aid the Brain Initiative. This has been very good. We were not intended to be for neuroscience research what the Human Genome Project was for molecular biology. As another example of the catalytic effect of the Brain Initiative, I was invited to speak at a workshop held at the University of Florida when we were right in the midst of the Brain Initiative. The purpose of the symposium was to bring together investigators from across Florida because they said, “Hey, we have all this neuroscience research going on at the University of Florida, Miami, Tampa, FSU, so why don’t we try to coordinate some of it.” Those sorts of efforts have taken place in a number of areas across the country, they have sparked a lot of interest, and that’s exactly what we were hoping would happen. We are also hopeful that each year Congress will allocate more resources for neuroscience research in particular, and I think that the Brain Initiative has been very helpful in keeping the focus on the importance of this area of science for improving human health.

think about African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities and, most importantly, the way students in these groups think about themselves. The students say, “Wow, that could be me.” I realize that although I am the first African-American to achieve this, I know that I’m not the first person who has had the accomplishments to achieve this. There have certainly been others before me who just did not receive this recognition because they went unnoticed. I am thinking specifically about African-American scientists and physicians whose work was significant but not recognized with these accolades. The accomplishment is an honor as I said. However, it does not go to my head because there are so many talented people out there in a number of areas whose work is tremendous and has had impact who have not received this level of recognition. On another level, I wanted to be a statistician and a physician. Neuroscience is something that I took on later as an interest and a career focus. Part of what is really gratifying about being in all three Academies is that, to some extent, it says that I’ve done a good job in all three areas. And now to be acknowledged as an innovator by being elected to the National Academy of Inventors is so very cool!

T&I: In addition to the sheer number of accolades you have accumulated, you are also widely regarded as a trailblazer. It has been noted that you are the first African American, the first statistician, and the first anesthesiologist to be elected to all three branches of the National Academies: the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. What does it mean to you to be the first to have achieved these honors?


Brown: I am honored and humbled to be recognized by my peers. It is a pleasure to know that my colleagues think that what I am doing is important and that my accomplishments are worth acknowledging. Regarding being the first African-American elected in all three of the branches of the National Academies, now that this has occurred, it is more important than I would have imagined because people do notice it. Students talk about it. It helps change the way we

A gifted polymath, Brown has successfully united his talents in medicine and statistics to create a new frontier for brain exploration that has led to advances both intellectual and material. Because of his work, we now have a fundamentally different conception of the effects of anesthetic agents on the brain and understand that our previous “legal fiction” models of going to “sleep” lacked neuroscience reasoning. In addition to his intellectual contributions, Brown has also made concrete progress toward improving clinical practice, something that will make anesthesia use safer and more effective for patients and practitioners. On all fronts, from the lab to the classroom to the operating room, what is clear to anyone who speaks even briefly with Brown is that his knowledge and abilities are only matched by his enthusiasm and love for his work.






5. 6.


Brown EN, Lydic R, Schiff ND. General anesthesia, sleep, and coma. N Engl J Med. 363:2638-50; 2010. Ching S, Cimenser A, Purdon PL, Brown EN, Kopell NJ. Thalamocortical model for a propofol-induced alpha-rhythm associated with loss of consciousness. PNAS. 107:22665-70; 2010. Brown EN, Purdon PL, Van Dort CJ. General anesthesia and altered states of arousal: a systems neuroscience analysis. Annu Rev Neurosci. 363:2638-50; 2011. Solt K, Cotten JF, Cimenser A, Wong KF, Chemali JJ, Brown EN. Methylphenidate actively induces emergence from general anesthesia. Anesthesiology. 115:791-803; 2011. Ching S, Purdon PL, Vijayan S, Kopell NJ, Brown EN. A neurophysiological-metabolic model for burst suppression. PNAS. 109:3095-100; 2012. Lewis LD, Weiner VS, Mukamel EA, Donoghue JA, Eskandar EN, Madsen JR, Anderson WS, Hochberg LR, Cash SS, Brown EN, Purdon PL. Rapid fragmentation of neuronal networks at the onset of propofol-induced unconsciousness. PNAS. 109(49):E3377-3386; 2012. Purdon PL, Pierce ET, Mukamel EA, Prerau MJ, Walsh JL, Wong KFK, Salazar-Gomez AF, Harrell

PG, Sampson AL, Cimenser A, Ching S, Kopell NJ, Tavares-Stoeckel C, Habeeb K, Merhar R, Brown EN. Electroencephalogram signatures of loss and recovery of consciousness from propofol. PNAS. 110(12):E1142-51; 2013. 8. Shanechi M, Chemali JJ, Liberman M, Solt K, Brown EN. A brain-machine interface for control of medically-induced coma. PLoS Comput Biol. 2013. 9. Purdon PL, Sampson A, Pavone KJ, Brown EN Clinical electroencephalography for anesthesiologists Part I: background and basic signatures. Anesthesiology. 123:937-60; 2015. 10. Purdon PL, Pavone KJ, Akeju O, Smith AC, Sampson AL, Lee J, Zhou DW, Solt K, Brown EN. The ageing brain: age-dependent changes in the electroencephalogram during propofol and sevoflurane general anesthesia. Br J Anaesth. 115 Suppl 1:i46-i57; 2015. 11. Cornelissen L, Kim S, Purdon PL, Brown EN, Berde CB. Age-dependent electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns during sevoflurane general anesthesia in infants. eLife. 23:1-25; 2015. 12. Lewis LD VJ, Flores FJ, Schmitt LI, Wilson MA, Halassa M, Brown EN. Thalamic reticular nucleus induces fast and local modulation of arousal state. eLife. 4:e08760; 2015.

ISSN 1949-8241 â&#x20AC;˘ E-ISSN 1949-825X

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 295-304, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright Š 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS James K. Woodell1 and Tobin L. Smith2 Economic Development and Community Engagement, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Washington, DC, USA 2 Association of American Universities, Washington, DC, USA


By granting universities and faculty the rights to retain intellectual property arising from federally sponsored research, the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 provided critical motivation to universities and their faculty members to take an active role in commercializing technology based on their discoveries. While many universities feel it is imperative that their technology transfer operations work to recover costs, and dwindling state funding for higher education has caused some state legislatures and university governing boards to view technology transfer as a potential revenue source, we maintain that revenue generation, in most instances, is not the primary motivation for university technology commercialization. If done with the right goals in mind, technology transfer aligns with universitiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; overarching research, education, and service missions, helping to ensure that public investment in science is impactful, that it advances broader economic development objectives, and that it serves the public interest. In 2015, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Universities (AAU) issued recommendations to their members encouraging them to reaffirm their commitment to managing intellectual property in the public interest and calling for an unequivocal declaration by university leaders that technology transfer efforts serve first and foremost the best interests of society. This article relays the recommendations put forth by the associations. Key words: Technology transfer; Intellectual property; Public good; Societal impact; University policy

created perverse incentives that motivated universities to manage the intellectual property (IP) derived from federally funded and other research solely for the purpose of generating revenue. While many universities feel it is imperative that their technology transfer operations work to recover costs, and dwindling state funding for higher education has caused some state legislatures and university governing boards to view technology transfer as a

INTRODUCTION By granting universities and faculty the rights to retain intellectual property arising from federally sponsored research, the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 provided critical motivation to universities and their faculty members to take an active role in commercializing technology based on their discoveries. In recent years, policymakers, members of the business community, and others have suggested that Bayh-Dole _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to James K. Woodell, 1307 New York Avenue NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005-4722, USA. Tel: +1 (202) 478-6044; E-mail:




potential revenue source, we maintain that revenue generation, in most instances, is not the primary motivation for university technology commercialization. If done for the right reasons, technology transfer aligns with and advances universities’ overarching missions of research, education, and service. Technology transfer is a mechanism by which universities ensure that public investment in science is impactful, that such investments enhance economic development, and that it serves the public interest. University technology transfer must advance teaching and learning and research and discovery at the same time it contributes to economic and societal outcomes that help advance the national interest and improve quality of life. These are the reasons universities engage in technology transfer. Viewing revenue generation as the primary objective of university technology transfer operations is a misguided notion that will do little to help address university finances or to achieve universities’ overarching missions. Given the growing political and public perception that universities have become overly focused on profiting from their technology transfer operations, however, university leaders must publicly reaffirm their commitment to managing intellectual property in the public interest. There must be an unequivocal declaration by university leaders that technology transfer efforts serve first and foremost the best interests of society. Two university associations—the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Universities (AAU)—have been working with their member institutions to encourage clarity of purpose around university technology transfer. In 2015, both associations, working with other groups, including the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), and the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), issued recommendations to their members encouraging them to take steps to make such declarations. This article relays the recommendations put forth by the associations and describes follow-on work that the associations are undertaking to advance the conversation.

BACKGROUND The Successes of Bayh-Dole In 1980, the Bayh-Dole Act created a uniform patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research, enabling universities, nonprofit research institutions, and small businesses to retain patent and licensing rights to inventions developed by their investigators and supported by federal research funding. The purpose of Bayh-Dole is to facilitate the rapid transfer of research discoveries into the commercial sector to advance the public good. Before Bayh-Dole was enacted, the federal government retained ownership of federally funded discoveries, but, in most cases, the government failed to license discoveries to the private sector for further development. In fact, of the 28,000 patents the government owned in 1980, less than five percent had been licensed to industry (1). Bayh-Dole sparked technology transfer by creating an incentive for universities to secure patent protection for inventions resulting from federally funded research. This, in turn, allowed businesses to gain the necessary rights to develop and commercialize research discoveries. So successful was Bayh-Dole that in 2002 The Economist dubbed it as “Innovation’s Golden Goose,” noting that the act had “…helped to reverse America’s precipitous slide into industrial irrelevance” (1). Before the 1980 passage of Bayh-Dole, university discoveries were rarely commercialized for the public’s benefit. Instead, these discoveries were left to languish because the federal government did not have the time, interest, or resources to see that these inventions moved from the laboratory to the marketplace to advance the public good. In 1980, fewer than 250 patents were issued to universities; by 1993, this number had jumped to more than 1500 (2). According to the most recent survey of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), in 2015, U.S. universities garnered 6,124 U.S. patents, which led to the formation of 946 new start-up companies and generated more than 700 new commercial products (3). A 2015 Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) study conservatively approximates that, between 1996 and 2013, patents commercialized from universities contributed $404 billion to the U.S. gross domestic output, $181 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product, and supported a cumulative total of 1.4 million person years of employment (4).

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER Thus, the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 effectively established the field of university technology transfer. It has been a successful public policy instrument for encouraging innovation and increasing the translation of university research into new discoveries and technology useful to society. The system that was created by Bayh-Dole has been extraordinarily effective in helping to facilitate translation of discoveries from university research to the marketplace, creating benefit to consumers and society, creating jobs, and contributing to the economic competitiveness and technology leadership of the U.S. Simply put, BayhDole has provided a rich return on public investment in research. Criticisms of University Technology Transfer Despite its successes, critics of Bayh-Dole have questioned whether universities manage their intellectual property for the public good, suggesting that universities use government-funded intellectual property primarily for financial gain and are more interested in the monetization of IP than commercialization and societal benefit. They point to the emphasis on revenue in evaluating the success of technology transfer offices, the challenges faced by potential industry collaborators in coming to IP terms with universities, and reports of universities knowingly licensing to patent assertion entities (“trolls”). By and large, these criticisms are based on a few anecdotes rather than concrete data. Moreover, they ignore the fact that most technology transfer offices and the universities they represent are not deriving significant financial gains from their technology transfer operations. According to one study, more than half of university technology transfer programs bring in less money than the costs of their operations, while only 16 percent generate enough funds to fully cover their operating costs after distribution of revenues to their faculty inventors (5). The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have concluded that even when university inventions have a high social value, they often don’t generate a significant amount of revenue (6). In the few instances where universities do make money from their technology transfer efforts, the Bayh-Dole Act requires that these revenues be reinvested back into additional support for university-based research and education. However, dwindling state support for institutions has


resulted in state legislatures and university governing boards viewing technology transfer as a potential revenue source for research and public higher education. They ask, “Why can’t our state university be just like Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Stanford University and make technology transfer into a profitable operation?” Such views are shortsighted and, unfortunately, are likely to do more harm than good for improving university technology transfer operations if the focus of such efforts is to serve the best interests of the public and state and regional development. Former president of Stanford University John Hennessey has often noted that the university’s success in technology transfer resulted from its technology transfer office’s willingness to take risks and to move technology quickly from the lab to the marketplace as opposed to focusing on drafting licensing arrangements aimed at maximizing revenue. Says Hennessey: As universities, we need to emphasize flexibility and appreciate the good things that happen when technology transfers. And the ultimate reward to a broad-minded institution consists of the longterm goodwill and philanthropy, and must always be the greater reward for a university—above and beyond the revenue… Jim Gibbons [formerly Dean of Engineering] liked to say, ‘At Stanford, we never got a license from Hewlett or Packard for the technology developed here. But, even had we actually charged them for those licenses, those dollars would have only been one one-thousandth of the donations that HP eventually gave back to the university.’ (7) Moving forward, universities must address criticisms by increasing the visibility of the public good derived from managing university intellectual property. Working with colleagues at AAU, APLU, AUTM, and other professional organizations, institutions can raise awareness among policymakers and the public about their responsible and effective IP management and the significant public value derived from this work. Where improvements in institutional policy and practice are necessary, collaboration among institutions can also help by sharing innovative and effective approaches to IP management that help to address criticism and further advance the economic and societal impact of technology transfer.



Nine Points to Consider Sometimes lost in the face of public criticism is that university IP management, by and large, adheres to a set of “core values” that are consistent with universities’ missions of learning, discovery, and engagement in societal challenges. In 2007, ten leading research universities, along with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), distilled these core values into In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology (8). AUTM endorsed the Nine Points and solicited endorsement from universities and other organizations. APLU and AAU, along with more than 100 other research universities, associations, and other organizations, endorsed the statement. Universities and their IP management efforts would benefit from reviewing the Nine Points and checking for continuity between these principles and university policy and practice. Managing University Intellectual Property in the Public Interest In 2011, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies examined a “generation of experience, research, and dialogue” (6) in university intellectual property management. The findings and recommendations included in the NRC report collectively create a compelling story about the successes of the Bayh-Dole era. The findings and recommendations also caution universities to be clear about their commitment to the public good through management of intellectual property and to be vigilant in making sure that university policy and practice align with public purposes. The first recommendation of the NRC committee’s 2011 report, Managing University Intellectual Property in the Public Interest, states: The leadership of each institution—president, provost, and board of trustees—should articulate a clear mission for the unit responsible for IP management, convey the mission to internal and external stakeholders, and evaluate effort accordingly. The mission statement should embrace and articulate the university’s foundational responsibility to support smooth and efficient processes to encourage the widest dissemination of university-generated technology for the public good.

The NRC report further stresses the responsibility of university leaders to develop and adhere to patent and licensing policies and practices that do not predicate licensing on the goal of raising significant revenue for the university, but, to the greatest extent practicable, aim to “...maximize the further development, use, and beneficial social impact of their technologies.” The NRC report endorses several of the principles set out in In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology, the white paper described above. Many universities have developed and implemented policies and procedures drawn from key recommendations made by the NRC. We provide some examples later in this article. AAU and APLU Committees In 2014 and 2015, both the APLU and AAU commissioned committees to examine the issues surrounding the management of university IP in the public interest. The APLU Task Force on Managing University Intellectual Property was charged with examining purposes of university innovation, technology transfer, commercialization, and entrepreneurship (9). The AAU Working Group on Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property was tasked with reaffirming that the primary goal of university technology transfer operations is to advance the public interest (10). Both the AAU and APLU groups asserted that universities have a responsibility to be good stewards of discoveries and IP developed from federally funded research. The groups recognized that in recent years, however, some critics have asserted that universities’ technology transfer operations place too much emphasis on maximizing revenues and not enough on moving discoveries quickly into the marketplace, where they can advance the public good. Both groups released statements outlining principles and proposing specific steps that research universities should take to strengthen their commitment to IP management policies and practices aimed at advancing the public interest, which aligns with the core university missions of education, the creation and dissemination of knowledge, and public service. The recommendations disseminated by APLU and AAU are presented below, along with examples of the ways in which member universities’ policies and practices align with the recommendations.


RECOMMENDATIONS 1) Provide a clear statement of purpose for technology transfer at your university. University leaders should follow the recommendation of the National Research Council’s 2011 report, Managing University Intellectual Property in the Public Interest, to create a clear university IP policy. As noted above, the NRC report’s first recommendation underscores the need for clear university IP policy that strengthens the connection between this work and the public good. This recommendation and other aspects of the NRC report make clear the need for clarity around the underlying purposes of university IP management—public benefit and societal impact. Such policies should communicate that universities protect intellectual property first and foremost to provide incentive for investment in early-stage technology, which helps to “encourage the widest dissemination.” Universities must, of course, balance the need for wide dissemination with the need to recover costs and to emphasize the economic value of university discoveries. While discoveries and IP ownership can lead to additional resources and important support for university missions, this should not be the primary goal of such activities. Keeping this necessary balance in mind, it is essential that university leaders articulate a clear mission and purpose for university IP management, as recommended by the NRC. The State University of New York’s Stony Brook University, for example, declares the mission of its Office of Technology Licensing and Industry Relations on the home page of that office’s website: Our mission is to bridge Stony Brook innovation with public benefit in partnership with SBU inventors and the business community. By successfully commercializing innovative discoveries into new products and services, we enhance well-being, return economic benefit to the university community, and strengthen the long-term vitality of our innovation ecosystem. (11) “Public benefit” and “well-being” are primary in this statement of purpose. While Stony Brook does recognize the importance of “economic benefit to the university community,” it is clear from this mission statement that financial return is not the driving purpose of the unit. University leaders should work to emulate Stony Brook’s example by asserting the primacy of public benefit in their technology transfer


office’s mission statement and by making the policy highly visible and transparent on the university’s web site. These policies should also be agreed upon and endorsed at the highest levels within the university, including the university’s governing board. 2) Make visible policies that restrict the university from working with entities that acquire intellectual property rights with no real intention of commercialization. University leaders should make visible existing institutional policies that restrict the university from working with entities (so-called patent assertion entities—PAEs—or patent “trolls”) that acquire IP rights with no real intention of commercializing the technologies and instead rely solely on threats of infringement litigation to generate revenue. In instances where such policies do not exist, university leaders should move swiftly to establish them. For universities, working with such entities does not support a commitment to public benefit of intellectual property. University leaders should require that technology transfer offices carefully vet the credentials, practices, and reputations of third-party entities that might assist universities in asserting their patent rights against infringers. Asserting legitimate patent rights is an essential element of the patent system, and other entities may provide needed expertise and resources to support universities in this area. University policies should not prevent the institution from seeking assistance from entities that can legitimately help them protect their intellectual property. Universities should base their decision about whether to assert any unlicensed patent against a company based on the legitimate facts of the claimed infringement and only after good faith attempts to negotiate a license to such a company on commercially reasonable terms have failed. In recent years, a growing number of universities have developed specific policies and practices that restrict licensing to entities whose primary business model is based on using patents to obtain licensing fees from practicing companies. These universities include Louisiana State University, the University of Illinois, Western Michigan University, the University of Delaware, and Washington State University. It is also standard practice for universities to include in technology license agreements language that requires of the licensee commercialization milestones and benchmarks for the development of the technology.



If these are not met, the license is withdrawn by the university. At the University of Mississippi, for example, the Division of Technology Management maintains safeguards against working with PAEs. Patent rights are not sold to third parties, and the university does not participate in patent auctions. Further, the university does not work with entities that lack the expertise and resources to develop a technology, and the university’s standard license agreement requires a written development plan in which the licensee summarizes the proposed product development activities with a timeline. The university is entitled to terminate the agreement if the licensee fails to meet pre-established development milestones. This ensures that the technology will not be licensed to a patent “troll” and guards against technology being licensed to an entity that is only interested in protecting its own IP from the competition. Policies and practices such as these have become the norm—not the exception—for most public and private research universities. 3) Reaffirm commitment to In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology. University leaders should review and support, as appropriate, the document In the Public Interest: Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology and align IP management policies and practices with the Nine Points. Universities should publicly document current policies and procedures and implement new ones as necessary that align with these principles. Washington State University’s Office of Commercialization provided the following articulation of the ways in which university policies align with the Nine Points: • Point 1: Universities should reserve the right to practice licensed inventions and to allow other non-profit and governmental organizations to do so. WSU always reserves the right to practice licensed inventions and to allow other nonprofit and governmental organizations to do so. • Point 2: Exclusive licenses should be structured in a manner that encourages technology development and use. Exclusive licenses are structured to encourage

diligent development of the technologies and ways to pull the technology back if licensees are not actively pursuing the technology by building measures to track development. • Point 3: Strive to minimize the licensing of “future improvements.” WSU strives to minimize licensing of future improvements by limiting the licenses to currently developed IP. In cases where the licensee’s investment and risk taken in developing the invention warrants, an option to license a narrow scope of future license is agreed to. In cases where this is warranted, WSU bears in mind the rights of other WSU researchers and does not issue options to a broad field of use that might tie up other research conducted at WSU. • Point 4: Universities should anticipate and help to manage technology transfer related conflicts of interest. WSU has a well-run conflict of interest management committee that handles the conflicts that arise when WSU faculty and students start companies based on their research. This was implemented as a result of Washington State ethics board giving the state institutions the ability to set up a body to manage these conflicts. This has been in existence for many years now. • Point 5: Ensure broad access to research tools. WSU also makes the research tools developed with public funding widely available via material transfer agreements to other academic institutions and the research community in keeping with the policies of the funding agencies and scientific journals. • Point 6: Enforcement action should be carefully considered. WSU has not had an occasion to enforce its patents; however, should such occasion arise, WSU would strive to approach these actions with a mission-oriented rationale and/or to protect the rights of a licensee as obligated by a contract. • Point 7: Be mindful of export regulations. WSU’s licenses include export control regulation language to ensure federal compliance and to

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER safeguard the fundamental research exclusion provided to academic institutions. • Point 8: Be mindful of the implications of working with patent aggregators. WSU strives to enter into licensing arrangements with only those entities that further develop the technology and diligently attempt to commercialize it. Attempts to engage with entities that do not further commercialize the technologies are actively discouraged. WSU pays particular attention to the patent aggregators to ensure the primary licensee’s intent is to compile the body of IP needed to diligently advance the technology for public benefit as opposed to those aggregators whose primary intent is to enforce them against users for solely monetary benefit. • Point 9: Consider including provisions that address unmet needs, such as those of neglected patient populations or geographic areas, giving particular attention to improved therapeutics, diagnostics, and agricultural technologies for the developing world. WSU’s license agreements include measures to reserve rights for continued academic freedom of research as well as the need to meet humanitarian needs. Universities should clearly articulate the ways in which the university’s intellectual property policies align with the Nine Points, as Washington State University’s Office of Commercialization has done, and clearly articulate how the Nine Points are reflected in appropriate contractual clauses and language when it licenses university intellectual property. Universities should also make sure that this articulation of alignments is transparent to the public. 4) Implement innovative and effective approaches to managing university intellectual property. University leaders should identify and implement innovative and effective approaches to managing university IP and, more broadly, to engaging with entrepreneurs and industry. University leaders should work to emulate practices that have been effectively adopted by peers. Universities are constantly evolving in how they engage with licensees, entrepreneurs, and large corporations. For example, researchers, technology transfer professionals, and


other university leaders are increasingly focused on long-term relationship development and strategic initiatives—beyond simply striking the best licensing deal. University leaders need to examine changes happening in the field, benchmark for effective practices, and work toward implementing practices that help the university, along with its public and private partners, to accelerate realization of the benefits of university intellectual property. Washington University in St. Louis has worked to implement an innovative approach to addressing one often-cited type of challenge that universities face in undertaking IP management. Critics frequently note long timelines and complexity of negotiations associated with licensing deals. Many universities have sought to overcome this challenge by implementing new policies that speed up the process and ensure that technology is available to develop as quickly as possible at reasonable cost to the licensee. Washington University has established the Quick Start license agreement. Recognizing that the primary goal of a technology transfer office is to enable public utilization of university-generated technologies, Washington University devised the Quick Start license agreement to reduce time spent on haggling over IP price and royalties. The Quick Start license agreement is a back-end loaded deal structure with no upfront payments, no maintenance fees, no past patent costs, one low flat royalty rate, and a success fee at the time of an exit/liquidation event. The agreement allows start-up companies to invest time and money in developing the technology without the burden of an immediate payout to the university. Quick Start offers a robust streamlined approach to execute start-up license agreements expeditiously and turns the spotlight on the company’s management team, commercialization strategy, R&D timelines, and funding status—critical success parameters for a start-up enterprise. University leaders must continue to study the effectiveness of novel approaches such as Washington University’s Quick Start license agreement—as well as practices at Penn State University (12), University of Minnesota (12), and Georgia Tech (13), among others—and adopt those that are found to be most successful at addressing the challenges of managing university intellectual property in the public interest.



5) Develop appropriate measures of success for intellectual property management and technology transfer. University leaders should develop procedures and criteria for evaluating a university’s technology transfer unit without relying solely upon measuring revenue generation. Rather, evaluation approaches should focus on aligning the work of these units with the research university’s core missions of discovery, learning, and the betterment of our communities and society at large. There are many indicators of success of university intellectual property management, and university leaders should develop a framework for assessing their technology transfer intellectual property practices and effectiveness to include multiple measures that capture and reflect the university’s IP management mission and do not overly emphasize revenue generation. APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) has examined assessment and measurement of university economic engagement broadly and has identified indicators, including growing faculty and student interest in IP-related entrepreneurship, expansion of university-industry relationships, and others. Licensing activity is a good measure, as a starting point, of the university’s efforts toward commercialization. Revenue, however, is frequently not a good indicator since it is often driven by having one major blockbuster drug or home run discovery and is not representative of the ability of the university to effectively disseminate and transfer knowledge across a wide spectrum of disciplines and commercial and non-commercial venues. While universities should continue efforts to recover the costs associated with IP management and to make their technology transfer operations revenue neutral and profitable, measures of success should emphasize economic and social impacts of university discovery. A set of non-revenue indicators must be part of IP management policies and practice if we are to ensure public benefit of this work. The University of California Berkeley Office of IP & Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA) provides an excellent example of shifting away from a sole focus on patents and licensing as measures of success. IPIRA considers technology transfer to be a long-term relationship with industry, not just one agreement

or another. New metrics of success in technology transfer include: measures of both what is brought in to the university and what is sent out; how relevant the institution is to the local innovation ecosystem; how much diversification of research funding IPIRA supports; engagement through public-private partnerships and product development partnerships; speed and efficiency of transactions; and streamlining of approaches. Gifts to the university are also part of IPIRA’s success metrics. Enhanced reputation achieved through actions of IPIRA is manifested, in part, by gifts even though gifts are not accounted for in IPIRA. Gifts might also be received a decade after a given company has a good experience with IPIRA. To recognize IPIRA’s contribution, however, a small percentage of gift funding that comes to the campus as a whole is allocated to the office. Universities should consider, as UC Berkeley has, a variety of indicators that can be used for measuring the success of technology transfer efforts. Doing so will reduce the impression that universities are managing university intellectual property solely for financial gain. FOLLOW-UP EFFORTS AAU and APLU continue efforts to support institutions in clarifying the public interest purposes of university technology transfer. APLU and AAU are collecting and disseminating examples, like the ones included above, of universities implementing innovative new policies and effective approaches to technology transfer—examples that demonstrate alignment with the Nine Points and the NRC recommendations or that, in other ways, demonstrate good practice that is responsive to economic and societal needs. CICEP is also convening a working group on the evolution of technology transfer, focused on highlighting the ways in which technology transfer operations are adapting to become more engaged with and responsive to other stakeholders in regional innovation ecosystems. AAU is leading an effort to develop a comprehensive framework and identify examples of alternative ways universities are assessing the effectiveness of university technology transfer operations. The two organizations will continue to work together on these efforts and to help raise the visibility of the impacts in the public sphere of university technology transfer.


CONCLUSION The fundamental purpose of university technology transfer offices is to ensure that federally funded and other university research outcomes serve the public interest. AAU and APLU support universities pursuing technology transfer to enhance the public good and to promote economic development. We provide recommendations to help assure the public and policymakers that universities continue to be focused on the primary missions of research, education, and service and that technology transfer operations management serves theses missions. Research universities and their management of intellectual property and technology transfer are fundamental to ensuring that outcomes of federally funded and other university research serve the public interest. Our universities should—and most often do—pursue technology transfer with the primary goal in mind of making the world a better place, not generating significant additional revenues. We encourage university leaders to continue efforts to demonstrate that their institutions do this work for all the right reasons. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This article is based on work conducted by committees established by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Universities (AAU). Members of these committees contributed to final reports, from which this article is drawn. The APLU Task Force on Managing University Intellectual Property was chaired by Satish Tripathi, President, University at Buffalo and Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, Executive Vice President, Knowledge Enterprise Development, Arizona State University. Members of the APLU task force included: Patricia Beeson, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor, University of Pittsburgh; Grant Heston, Vice President for Communications and Marketing, University of Central Florida; Duane Nellis, President, Texas Tech University; Lita Nelsen, Director, Technology Licensing, MIT; Bill Tucker, Executive Director, Innovation Alliances & Services, University of California Office of the President; Doug Wasitis, Assistant Vice President, Federal Relations, Indiana University; Ruth Watkins, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Utah; Caroline Whitacre, Vice President for Research, The Ohio State University; and David Wilson, President, Morgan


State University. The AAU Working Group on Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property was chaired by Bob Brown, President, Boston University and Eric Kaler, President, University of Minnesota. Members of the AAU working group included: Rebecca Blank, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Madison; John Hennessy, Former President, Stanford University; Linda Katehi, Former Chancellor, University of California Davis; Richard McCullough, Vice Provost for Research, Harvard University; Jane Muir, Director of the Florida Innovation Hub, University of Florida and Past President, Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM); Mark Redfern, Vice Provost for Research, University of Pittsburgh; Barbara Snyder, President, Case Western Reserve University; John Swartley, Associate Vice Provost for Research and Executive Director, Penn Center for Innovation, University of Pennsylvania; Satish Tripathi, President, University of Buffalo; Michael Waring, Executive Director of Federal Relations, University of Michigan; and Phyllis Wise, Former Chancellor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Serving as liaisons to both the APLU task force and AAU working group were Bob Hardy, Director, Contracts and Intellectual Property Management, Council on Government Relations (COGR) and Steve Heinig, Director, Science Policy, American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). We would also like to give special thanks to Hannah Poulson, Policy Associate at the Association of American Universities for collecting and summarizing key data referenced in the article. REFERENCES 1. 2.


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ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 305-314, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

UNIVERSITY SEED CAPITAL PROGRAMS: BENEFITS BEYOND THE LOAN Donna L. Herber1, Joelle Mendez-Hinds1, Jack Miner2, Marc C. Sedam3, Kevin Wozniak4, Valerie Landrio McDevitt1 , and Paul R. Sanberg1 USF Research & Innovation, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA Office of Technology Transfer, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA 3 The Office of Research, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, USA 4 Office of Industry Engagement, Georgia Tech Research Corporation, Atlanta, GA, USA 1


While seed funding for start-up companies certainly provides crucial cash necessary to conduct business, the advantages of these initial infusions go well beyond the actual monies received, particularly for university-based technology start-up companies. Additional benefits for the institution and community can be realized when the seed funding comes from the academic institution where the technology was invented. These benefits include expanded funding opportunities, hiring and retention of top entrepreneurial faculty, goal setting, entrepreneur development, economic development, and university engagement. Examples of seed loan programs at both the regional and university level are numerous, and several case studies are presented to highlight the variety of benefits. We end with a consideration of the metrics that can be used to measure the success of these programs, including revenue generation as well as more traditional technology transfer aims, such as development of industry partnerships and realizing public good from the commercialization of academic research. Key words: Seed funding; Start-up; Technology transfer

licensing and start-up activity are very strong, including 914 new companies created, an increase of 11.7% over prior year” (5). AUTM’s definition of a start-up is a company formed specifically for the purpose of commercializing a technology developed at an academic institution (5). The broader, quintessential definition of a start-up company is, “a company that is in the first stage of its operations” (6). Oftentimes, these companies are initially financed by their entrepreneurial founders as they endeavor to capitalize on delivering a product

As the U.S. economy starts to show signs of recovery (1), university technology transfer offices are shifting their business aims and increasingly focusing on start-ups and the development of industry relationships (2). Moreover, university leaders now regard technology transfer as a critical component in attracting top tier faculty and students (3), many of whom are seeking entrepreneurial opportunities (4). The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) corroborates this increased interest in its 2014 fiscal year report, reporting that “institution _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Paul R. Sanberg, USF Research & Innovation, University of South Florida, 3702 Spectrum Boulevard, Suite 165, Tampa, FL 33612-9445, USA. Tel: +1 (813) 971-5570; Fax: +1 (813) 974-4962; E-mail:




or service for which they feel there is a demand. On account of the early stage of development, limited revenue, or high costs, many of these small-scale ventures cannot be maintained long term without an influx of additional funding, usually from venture capitalists (6). In order to be successful, start-ups clearly need funding. Some traditional mechanisms of funding for the development and commercialization of a technology include federal awards, such as those from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, donations from friends and family, angel investors, venture capitalist investors (VCs), and various state and local inducement programs. However, without a mature entrepreneurial ecosystem or significant state or local economic development, initiatives focused on providing early-stage capital funding for nascent start-up ventures remain elusive when the relative risk is much greater than the possibility of a financial return on investment. University start-ups are at an even greater risk in many cases than other start-up ventures, as the technologies are often far more earlystage, sometimes not much more than sludge in the bottom of a petri dish or drawings on the back of a napkin (7). Communities and states that provide entrepreneurial infrastructure create an environment where university technology transfer can flourish and benefit from the technology start-ups and business expansion that result (4). A more recent development in start-up financing, one designed to bridge funding gaps, lies within the university itself. Universities around the globe have expanded their traditional missions and stepped up to fill the gap in early-stage funding with programs originating from university foundations, offices of research, and technology transfer offices (8). These programs, which come in the form of grants, loans, and convertible debt, can target both technologies (pre-license) and companies (post-license). Programs based at the university are uniquely poised to bridge the gap between academic research and commercialization, as they are housed at the very institution that spawned the technology in the first place. While the money is an essential element, there are many benefits beyond the loan itself. The peripheral effects on the university, company, technology, founders, students, and local economy are numerous.

BENEFITS Expanded Funding Opportunities The primary goal of any funding mechanism is to provide cash for the company to further develop a product or service. However, getting that first dollar is a huge challenge (9), and seed loansâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;along with founder money and sweat equityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;can provide those crucial first dollars for funding a project. Beyond this initial benefit, one of the peripheral effects of a seed loan investment is the attraction of more funding towards the project, basically acting as a money magnet (10). This added financing can be in the form of additional founder investment as well as friend and family contributions and angel investment. In some cases, the seed loan can be used to leverage regional or state funds through matching programs (11). Where no matching programs exist, the university program can be used as a catalyst to bring partners to the table with matching money as well as to encourage these groups to partner with the university seed loan program to increase the amount of the award. At the federal level, reviewers for the SBIR and STTR programs are more likely to fund projects that have demonstrated some funding to date (12), making university seed funding more important. This last benefit of aiding with SBIR and STTR can be further augmented by creating crucial relationships with established industry, as many companies are poised to partner for SBIR programs (13). Focusing the Company Goal setting can be challenging for university start-ups, particularly as the projects initially begin as research ventures rather than as commercial endeavors. Many seed programs require their beneficiaries to outline specific activities, budgets, and personnel, and this can kick-start commercial activities by impelling the start-ups to focus on specific aspects of their projects. An indirect but tangible benefit of seed loan programs, then, is to focus companies on concrete, short-term goals that incrementally move them towards the larger goals of successful commercialization (14). An overall acceleration of projects can occur through the achievement of short-term goals (12 to 24 months), which can then lead to overall acceleration of the time to commercial product launch, acquisition, strategic partnership, or other long-term goals.



Entrepreneur Development University seed cap programs can be instrumental in developing entrepreneurship among faculty and students because these programs provide the funds that make it possible for them to dedicate their complete attention to their business ventures. A primary concern for many new faculty entrepreneurs is time management, as they balance commitment towards the company and commitments as an academic. Similarly, many students find themselves without sufficient time for their ventures because they are forced to seek a primary employer upon graduation while their start-up gets relegated to a hobby. By providing seed funding, the university can enable the founder to dedicate more time (sometimes up to 100%) to the commercial success of the company, even if it is just for a year, allowing the start-up to reach key development milestones. In addition to dedicated office time, this seed money also makes it possible for them to participate in programs such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) and those provided by incubators and accelerators, which can also be crucial to their entrepreneurial education. By allowing the founder to remove his or her academic hat and take on the mantle of a business person, the seed program can assist in the transition of the company from a research project to a commercial enterprise (15,16). Likewise, the entrepreneurial and business experience gained by the founders when allowed to focus full time on the company can be invaluable.

University Engagement University-based seed funds can act as a growth driver for a variety of university programs. A dedicated seed fund demonstrates a universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commitment to the advancement of technology and the creation of start-ups, which can attract seasoned entrepreneurs (19). Faculty may also find start-ups more attractive as they balance their academic responsibilities and their companies. One of the measures of success for university technology transfer offices is the number of new start-ups created in a given fiscal year (5). Seed programs dedicated to the funding of promising new start-ups can drive the formation of new entities in order to qualify for the seed loans. Many seed loans are related to incubator programs, resulting in increased incubator participation and occupation (20). Gap activities to move the basic research into the development stage can be funded by the seed loans, often resulting in sponsored research at the university in the inventorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lab. Many matching programs are designed to be used solely for sponsored research at the university (11). This close tie with the university also leads to increased potential student involvement by moving students from the research laboratory into the development of the technology at the company. Finally, many programs use convertible debt, allowing for an equity position in the company for the university, thereby expanding the potential financial benefit to the university (Table 2).

Economic Development Universities are continuously asked to describe their economic impact on the local region (17). One often-cited area of direct impact is the formation of companies and new job creation (18). In light of this, many seed programs are restricted to either state or interstate regional companies, thereby encouraging physical location in the requisite area (Table 1). While start-ups typically are not large-scale employers, once funded, these micro-entities do begin hiring efforts, thereby further encouraging job creation in the local region or state. Particularly, when companies are affiliated with universities, there is a natural flow of students through internships and direct employment. Some programs have student participation as part of their funding requirements, especially when graduate students familiar with the research can be involved (11).

University of South Florida Research Foundation Seed Capital Accelerator Program The University of South Florida Research Foundationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Seed Capital Accelerator Program (USFRF SCAP) for companies affiliated with the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator (TBTI) was designed to support and provide funds to new and existing TBTI affiliated start-ups that were formed based on the licensing of USF technologies (21). The program provides up to $50,000 of loan funding to enable start-ups to quickly improve the odds of overcoming immediate obstacles to commercialization. Activities are focused on providing a measurable outcome and return on investment in the near term. The objective of the USFRF SCAP is to help companies reach specific goals in one year or less, allowing start-ups to reach critical development milestones and get to market more




Table 1. Examples of Regional Seed Loan Programs


Fund Name



UC Ventures

Proposed $250 million venture fund, seeded with money from the UC endowment, for commercial opportunities arising out of Californiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s state university system (27).


Florida Institute Seed capital fund

The Institute provides between $50,000 to $300,000 in seed funding either as debt or equity. Qualified companies must be located in Florida, developing a technology developed by publicly supported research organization in the State of Florida (including state universities), and secure matching funds (


Georgia Research Alliance GRA Venture Program

Designed to help create new ventures out of research labs. Includes proof of concept grants, 1:1 matching grants for company launch, $250,000 loans, and a venture fund (



Seed and early-stage technology investment firm focused on research-derived companies in information technologies, physical sciences, life sciences, and clean technology. Based on work conducted at Midwest Universities and federal laboratories (


TEDCO Technology commercialization fund

Provides up to $100,000 to support projects coming out of Maryland companies that fall into these catagories: license or research agreement with a publicly supported research organization in the State of Maryland (including Maryland universities); incubator affiliated; or TEDCO entrepreneurial development program (28).


Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Gap Fund

All 15 Michigan public universities are eligible to compete for awards of up to $100,000 per project. Repayment of three times the award amount is made through a small percentage of start-up revenue (29).

quickly. TBTI and USF Patents & Licensing provide support and training along the way and supervise funded tasks. The funding provided to companies is contingent on agreed-upon project objectives being met and may be used to build prototypes, obtain materials, pay salaries, contract for services and assistance outside the university, or cover other expenses as approved. ClearSpec ClearSpec, LLC was founded in 2011 in Boca Raton, Florida, by serial entrepreneur Navroze Mehta to develop a novel sheathed vaginal speculum (www. The sheath was invented by USF physician Dr. Rony Francois and is used during gynecological exams for better visualization. As a participant in the second round of the USFRF SCAP,

Clearspec was awarded a $50,000 convertible note to fund the national market launch of the speculum. The funding was extremely timely, as it permitted what was initially a small regional product launch to be expanded into a national launch. The publicity generated from the launch has attracted potential acquisition partners and accelerated sales volumes. This case demonstrates that even mature start-ups can benefit from the acceleration of the project afforded by a seed loan. Two additional programs offered by the State of Florida contributed to the early progression of ClearSpec through manufacturing design and clinical testing, primarily the State University Research Commercialization Assistance Grant and the Florida Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research Seed Capital Loan.



Table 2. Examples of University Seed Programs


Fund Name


Indiana University

Innovate Indiana Fund

A $10 million fund provides equity seed capital for company formation and to support new ventures at early stages. This fund is available to individuals with an IU connection to start, nurture, and grow technology startups and support faculty and entrepreneurs (

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Phystech Ventures

Venture capital fund focused on incubating and growing Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology related tech companies that solve a measurable problem on a large existing or rapidly growing and sizable market in IT, energy, clean-tech, new materials, and high-tech devices. As an individual investor, it aims to invest around $500,000 in projects, but it is willing to offer more in syndicate deals with other VC firms and business angels (

New York University

NYU Innovation Venture Fund

A seed-stage venture capital fund created in 2010 to invest exclusively in start-ups founded by and/or commercializing technologies and intellectual property developed by current NYU students, faculty, and researchers. The Fund makes approximately five to six investments per year, from $100,000 to $150,000 each (equity and convertible debt), in partnership with other angel investors and/or VC firms (30).

The Ohio State University

Technology Concept Fund

Joint fund from OSU and Ohio Third Frontier for university start-ups. Concept investments range from $25,000 to $100,000 (convertible note), supplemented by funds from the entrepreneur and co-investment partner(s) (31).

Penn State

Fund for Innovation

Multi-stage funding, including technology proof of concept, company formation, and commercialization activities. Commercialization awards range from $50,000 to $100,000 (32).

Purdue University

Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund

Two tiers of funding for Purdue affiliated start-ups: the “Black Award,” a $20,000 convertible nonrecourse note, and the “Gold Award,” for up to an additional $80,000 debt or equity (22).

University of British Columbia

e@UBC Seed Fund

Provides seed funds (generated from donations to UBC) for companies where at least one of the founders, or key managers, is a current UBC student, faculty, staff member, or recent alumni; new businesses based around research undertaken at UBX (33).

University of Chicago

Innovation Fund

A $20 million investment fund focusing on commercializing early-stage research and supporting emerging companies at the University of Chicago. Grants and investments range from $25,000 to $100,000. For awardees that are not and will not imminently transition to a legal commercialization entity, Innovation Fund awards are granted. For awardees that are legally incorporated, Innovation Fund awards will be given in return for convertible debt (https://cie.uchicago/edu/innovation-fund).



University of Edinburgh

Growth Investment Fund

Provides growth equity to the University’s leading spin-out and start-up companies, investing between £100,000 to £400,000 for spin-outs with very high growth potential as part of a larger funding round involving professional investors. Any investments will be made as part of a larger funding round with professional investors (

University of Hawaii


Multi-stage funding, including technology proof of concept ($25,000); commercialization ($50,000); and follow-on funding during a qualified round of financing of up to $100,000 (

University of Michigan

Michigan Investment in New Technology Start-ups Program

A $25 million investment venture fund. Investments of up to $500,000 of university funds in start-ups based on U-M technology, after they have secured initial funding from a qualified venture capital firm (34).

University of Minnesota

Discovery Capital Investment Program

Providing early-stage funding to start-up companies based on university-discovered technology and innovation; invests up to $350,000 in equity financing once the company has secured a matching investment of an equal or greater amount from an outside investor (35).

University of South Florida

Seed Capital Acceleration Program

Provides up to $50,000 of loan funding to enable universitydiscovered start-ups to quickly improve the odds of overcoming immediate obstacles to commercialization and provide measurable outcomes and return on investment in the near term (

University of Texas

Horizon Fund

Help UT start-up companies make the leap from the university lab and boost its small early investments, thereby helping a start-up attract funding from other investors. This is a $22.5 million fund allocating $100,000 to $2 million per award to UT start-ups (36).

University of Utah

Commercialization Engine Funding Program

Technology and Venture Commercialization Engine funds are allocated under one of two partnership models: 1) for technologies not yet licensed to a company, the funding is non-dilutive and total amounts will be considered during licensing negotiations and 2) for licensed technologies, funding is structured as a non-interest bearing convertible note (

University of Wisconsin

Ideadvance Seed Fund

The Ideadvance Seed fund is designed to create new companies from ideas and technologies discovered at University of Wisconsin System campuses and at UWExtension. Ideadvance grants are also designed to provide start-up “gap” funding. Funds are available, from $25,000 to $50,000 for evaluating customer need and developing a business model. Follow-on funding requires a 1:1 funding match (

Washington State University

Commercialization Gap Fund

CGF awards are intended to be the final funding step for near market-ready technologies in the areas of clean tech, engineering, human and animal health, agricultural, and/or information technologies. Awards of up to $50,000 are made, with a maximum of $5,000 of the proposed budget allocated to business development activities. Funds are distributed using a milestone-driven process with stipulated goals reached before the next funding increment is approved (

UNIVERSITY SEED CAPITAL Moterum Moterum, Inc. was founded in 2014 by serial entrepreneurs David Huizenga and Mark Chandler to develop the Gait Enhancing Mobility Shoe (GEMS). GEMS was invented by Dr. Kyle Reed, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and then graduate student Dr. Ismet Handzic for the rehabilitation of stroke patients who have problems walking. As a participant in the second round of the USFRF SCAP, Moterum was awarded a $15,000 convertible note to fund the production of a clinical-grade prototype. Incorporated in South Carolina, Moterum quickly moved to establish a location in Tampa, Florida. The availability of the loan from USFRF SCAP accelerated the formation of Moterum and encouraged it to choose a Tampa location in the USF incubator, TBTI. The loan was then matched by the Florida High Tech Corridor grant program, which triggered additional founder funding, ultimately leading to hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsored research at USF. Moreover, Dr. Huizenga has deeply engaged with Dr. Reed’s lab and participated in the NSF I-Corps program to evaluate yet another rehabilitation technology developed in Reed’s lab. Scientific League Scientific League, LLC was founded in 2011 in Tampa, Florida, by USF College of Engineering Ph.D. graduates Samuel DuPont and Audrey Buttice (www. Dr. DuPont and Dr. Buttice created STEM education materials for K-12 based on the Superhero Training Network. As a participant in the first round of the USFRF SCAP, Scientific League was awarded a $50,000 convertible note to fund the production of volumes three and four of their video-based materials. The SCAP funds accelerated acceptance of the program by the educational community, and the loan was allocated in two $25,000 tranches, each contingent upon the results from a validation study. Upon graduation, the funding allowed Dr. DuPont and Dr. Buttice to work full time on the project without needing to seek outside employment. Together, the validation results and commercial materials led to a contract with a large school district.


Purdue Foundry Fund: SPEAK MODalities SPEAK MODalities, LLC, founded in 2013, was born out of research conducted at Purdue University by Dr. Oliver Wendt ( Dr. Wendt created software applications derived from clinical research into the efficacy of augmentative and alternative communication in autism. SPEAK all!™ is a sensory-friendly communication app that allows children to construct and verbalize simple sentences via graphic symbols. SPEAK more!™ targets vocabulary learning and enhances complexity of utterances in autistic learners who communicate via tablets or other speech-generating devices. SPEAK MODalities benefitted from several funding programs offered through Purdue. Initially, the technology was created for the iPad. A $20,000 Black Award from the Purdue Foundry Fund funded the development of an Android-based version (22). SPEAK MODalities also received grants from Purdue for the translation of the prototype into a commercial version of the software and the development of follow-up applications. One of the biggest advantages of the awards was the facilitation of a continued collaboration with the university, which funded and enabled research-driven products, essentially acting as the R&D department for the company. Seed funding from Purdue demonstrated the university’s commitment to the project, making it even more attractive to investors, thus generating follow-on funding. University of Texas Horizon Fund: Cardiovate Cardiovate, Inc. was founded in 2012 by Jordan Kaufmann, Mauli Agrawal, and Steven Bailey and focused on Dr. Kaufmann’s stent-graft-tissue engineering scaffold for aneurysm repair (TESAR), a technology designed to prevent aneurysm leakage following cardiovascular surgeries (www.cardiovate. com). The TESAR technology was invented at the University of Texas at San Antonio in conjunction with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Cardiovate received a $50,000 Horizon Fund award to continue the technology development after a successful pilot study in animals at the university (23). The funds allowed Kaufmann, Agrawal, and Bailey to further refine the manufacturing of the TESAR, secure lab space to further test the device, and support additional market research. The market



research led Cardiovate to shift initial development to a vascular graft to regenerate peripheral vascular tissue before further development of an aneurysm treatment. The hope is to ultimately license the technology to a larger corporate partner. These key actions led to the hiring of Mike Standeford, a seasoned CEO who could propel the technology and company forward. University of Chicago Innovation Fund: Genomic Prescribing System The Genomic Prescribing System (GPS) evolved out of the University of Chicago’s 1200 Patients Project, a study to determine the use of genotype information by physicians in a typical health care setting. The GPS system is a database of patient genetic profiles and their responses to specific drugs. GPS sends that information to doctors who can use it for comparative analysis. GPS is the brainchild of Dr. Mark Ratain, professor of medicine, and Dr. Peter O’Donnell, assistant professor of medicine, both of the University of Chicago, which provided $100,000 in financial support for the project through its Innovation Fund. The funds are designated for external validation of the database (24). The project has also attracted Ken Bradley, who is the business lead, and the investment firm ARCH Venture Partners. Georgia Institute of Technology: Suniva Suniva, a start-up out of the Georgia Institute of Technology, is America’s leading solar manufacturer ( Founded in 2007 by inventor Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, Suniva is focused on high-efficiency photovoltaic technologies. Dr. Rohatgi is the founding director of The University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education at Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech provided $100,000 in funding early in the company’s life cycle for portfolio evaluation and crucial gap studies (25). Suniva is a prime example of a successful private/public partnership with ongoing collaborations with the university to boost cell efficiency, characterize materials, and optimize manufacturing.

Washington State University Commercialization Gap Fund (CGF): Reducing Implant Infection Dr. Amit Bandyopadhyay is one of seven researchers at Washington State University who received gap funding in 2014 to advance his work in developing novel materials that can improve the design and safety of joint implants. These materials can be used to create products that are resistant to infection and reduce the release of metal ions that might build up in the soft tissue of the body, thereby increasing a patient’s risk of cancer. Such technologies are ultimately geared towards enhancing patient well-being and reducing health care costs overall. By providing critical financial assistance to advance inventions that are near the end stage of research but still require additional development before entering the marketplace, the CGF helps researchers to get across the low-funded period of time between academic grants and private investments, the so-called “valley of death” (26). FUTURE Given the recitation of benefits, one obvious question is: How do we measure the success of university funding programs? First, we need to recognize that there are direct and indirect measures of success. Direct measures can include financial criteria, such as loan repayment or equity payout. Indeed, some funds are managed similarly to traditional angel or venture funds, with a direct goal of a positive return on investment. Other programs seek to be a source of funding and support for the companies, and simply keeping the fund in the black may be a sufficient measure of success even if a profit is not realized. Still other programs use less direct but still quantifiable measures, similar to the AUTM reportable metrics, including numbers of license agreements executed, companies formed, jobs created, sponsored research generated, follow-on funding procured, products launched, etc. Ultimately, success depends on the goals of the program, and even these may shift over time. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors declare no conflicts of interest.



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Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 315-318, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

AMERICA’S SEED FUND: HOW THE SBIR/STTR PROGRAMS HELP ENABLE CATALYTIC GROWTH AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES G. Nagesh Rao1, John R. Williams1, Mark Walsh1, and James Moore2 Office of Investment and Innovation, U.S. Small Business Administration, Washington, DC, USA Office of Governmental Affairs, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, VA, USA

1 2

In order for America to maintain its innovative and technological competitive advantage, it is imperative that current policy design favor high growth formation through the catalytic means of institutional financing. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs have historically served as crucial financing to help de-risk early-stage technology development and enable validation that encourages follow-on private institution capitalization. With new trends in the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, advanced materials, genomics, environmental sustainability, renewable energy, national security, and many other areas evolving over the years ahead, national governments bear the responsibility for helping seed the inventive fire that enables economic growth as we move forward. Key words: Innovation; Invention; Small business; Research; Development; High-Tech; Economic growth; Public policy; Commercialization

Small businesses—from the high-tech focused to mom and pop shops—are the creators of jobs and the driving force behind U.S. economic performance. Recognizing this truth, the U.S. government established the Small Business Administration (SBA) in 1953 in order to help Americans start and develop their own small businesses. Some might question the value that small businesses bring to the table, compared with large established research organizations, when it comes to innovative science and technology development. However, numerous articles (1,2) indicate that small businesses, in particular those in the U.S., are the backbone of the global economy. Specifically, the endeavors relating to high-growth, technologically-focused industries bear the greatest

opportunity for wealth creation (3). When reading or watching the news, it would seem that many hip “tech start-ups” are focused on reinventing the internet via means of engagement that are low risk and focused on consumer services. What do Qualcomm, Symantec, Biogen Idec, LASIK surgery, Roomba®, and 3D printing have in common? All of these companies and/or core technologies were seed-financed by America’s Seed Fund, also known as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs (henceforth SBIR/STTR programs). These iconic American technologies and companies were fueled with non-dilutive catalytic seed funding from the SBIR/STTR programs. Non-dilutive funding

_____________________ Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to G. Nagesh Rao, Chief Technologist & Geek in Residence, U.S. Small Business Administration-Office of Investment and Innovation, c/o SBIR/STTR Programs, 409 3rd St SW, Suite 6269, Washington, DC 20416, USA. Tel: +1 (202) 281-8899; E-mail:




is funding with no loss of ownership, which protects from loss of profits and control, thus helping to reduce the risks that naturally arise from technology prototyping development. As a result, the developers of these technologies, which partially or fully originated in research laboratories (university and/or federal labs), were empowered to use the notion of a small business to fully realize the technology’s commercial promise. The SBIR program is focused on applied science and technology development coupled with a means of requiring the researching entity (in this case a small business) to actually commercialize the technology in today’s growing economy. The SBIR/STTR programs awarded $2.5 billion of seed funding directly to small businesses last year alone and over $43 billion during the last 30+ years since the inception of the program in 1982 (annually around $2 to $2.5 billion currently) (4). The market caps of just Qualcomm and Biogen Idec alone have a collective valuation of $130+ billion, essentially tripling the return on investment (ROI) of the programs over their lifetimes. Looking at the thousands of jobs created by both companies in the San Diego and Boston/Cambridge regions, respectively, for example, one will note that both companies have helped stoke the innovation fires in their respective regions (5-7). That’s a pretty good ROI, but even that return pales when we consider the numerous positive benefits derived from this program for the American economy, such as job creation, advances in applied science and technology, economic growth, knowledge development, and the enabling of futuristic disruptive technology. Simply put, the SBIR/STTR stats are astoundingly impressive. One statistic that should be of particular interest to the innovation and invention community is the number of patents generated by the SBIR/STTR programs: Drum roll please...over 50,000 patents created (8). That’s an average of seven patents per day issued since the program’s inception—patents that have resulted in over 15,000 small business firms and/or start-ups created (9). Patents and other forms of intellectual property are tangible assets that help raise a valuation prospective for high-tech start-ups and small business companies. Recent economic studies conducted around the ROI of federal dollars invested into high-tech small business companies by the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy SBIR/

STTR programs showcased 4:1, 14:1, and staggering 19:1 dollar returns, respectively, plus extensive job creation valuation (10). The firms that SBIR/STTR seek to invest in are tackling issues in environmental security, artificial intelligence, national security, public health, cybersecurity, advanced robotics, space exploration, clean energy, and agro-tech, among many others. Many of these firms have been founded by technical inventors yearning to capitalize on their creations and unleash the true potential of their inventiveness for the benefit of the global community. One unique feature we have within the SBIR program is its sister STTR program that has a formal requirement for small businesses to collaborate with a research institution during Phase I and Phase II research and development (R&D) prototype development. The small business company is the prime and must sub-contract 30% of its award to a research institution to assist in doing the research. This partnership is essential to bridging the gap between basic science and commercialization. In other words, the SBIR/ STTR programs help to facilitate effective cooperation and diffuse risk by requiring that small high-tech firms apportion some of their STTR funding to a research institution to aid in the necessary R&D. A question that is raised a lot is whether this critical research would have come about on its own of free market volition. Figure 1, from a study conducted by Professors Albert Link and John Scott, shows the critical nature of incentivization that results from the high-risk, high-reward nature of SBIR/STTR funding (11). The same study showed the gradual employment gains that result due to technological validation and the emphasis on commercialization of technology as required by SBIR/STTR funding on the small businesses. The SBA and its eleven participating federal agency partners also continue to look for ways to improve their outreach and engagement efforts to ensure that they are reaching underserved communities. These agency partners include: Department of Defense, Health & Human Services, Department of Energy, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce (National Institute of Standards and Technology and National Oceanic




Defintely yes Probably yes


Uncertain Probably not Definitely not





0 DoD





Figure 1. Survey of whether or not the research would be performed without incentivization of SBIR funding support. Reprinted by permission from Issues in Science and Technology (Link AN, Scott JT. Real numbers: the small business innovation research program. Issues Sci Technol. 28(4)., copyright 2012.

and Atmospheric Administration), Department of Transportation, Department of Education, and Environmental Protection Administration. The SBA, being the programmatic and policy lead for the SBIR/ STTR programs, has hosted and continues to host a series of SBIR Road Tour stops across the country to convey the message of the program. Entrepreneurs can meet with program managers at these events to discuss the program, ask questions, and learn about funding opportunities. Interested entrepreneurs can visit for more details and to locate cities the SBA will be visiting this year. As well as providing the initial gateway business intelligence platform, also helps inventors, technologists, entrepreneurs, and small business firms gain access to initial resources and assistance in order to effectively compete for SBIR/STTR-related funding. Furthermore, we highlight upcoming and already successful SBIR/STTR-funded firms on, helping provide open and transparent evidence of the success of the inventors and dreamers that the U.S. government is encouraging to tackle high-risk, high-reward technological endeavors. As the program continues to grow in prominence and interest in the high-tech small and medium enterprise (SME) scene increases, there has been a

greater interest from foreign countries in creating and implementing similar programs. For instance, the United Kingdom has their own similar Small Business Research Initiative program, and the European Union initiated the Horizon 2020 program, which is similar to SBIR but open to a variety of entities beyond SMEs. Horizon 2020 will be operating for seven years (2014 to 2020) and has been charged with deploying capital to initiate next generation science and technology development (12). A recent op-ed hinted that Canada too needed to initiate a program of this caliber in order to build out their future science and technology innovation scene (13). With the advent of globalization and advances in science and technology permeating industries in record time and at record rates, we must consider how to harness and cultivate new innovation ecosystems moving forward. The academic and independent invention communities are ideal innovation talent pipelines that should be actively participating in the SBIR/STTR programs. The SBIR/STTR programs serve as catalysts by providing funding opportunities that can help enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the tools needed to profit from commercialization. Including qualified small businesses in the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s R&D arena stimulates



high-tech innovation, fosters entrepreneurial spirit, and helps maintain America’s technological leadership in a more globalized economy. REFERENCES 1.




5. 6.


Hecht J. Are small businesses really the backbone of the economy? Inc. [2014 Dec 14; 2016 Oct 15]. html. Washington RA. What’s so great about small business? The Economist. [2011 Jun 30; 2016 Oct 15]. Horn J, Pleasance D. Restarting the U.S. small business growth engine. McKinsey & Company. [Nov 2012; 2016 Oct 15]. com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/ restarting-the-us-small-business-growth-engine. [SBIR/STTR] Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer. Awards. [accessed 2016 Oct 15]. https://www. Park C. Kendall Biogen back. The Tech. [2012 Mar 20; 2016 Oct 15]. N13/biogen.html. Blanding M. The man who helped launch biotech. MIT Technology Review [2015 Aug 18; 2016 Oct 15]. https://www.technologyreview. com/s/540466/the-man-who-helped-launchbiotech/. The economic impact of Qualcomm: driving San Diego’s technology growth. San Diego (CA): San Diego Workforce Partnership, San







Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation; 2013 [accessed 2016 Oct 15]. http:// sites/default/ files/011113-TelecomReport.pdf. Testimony of Jere Glover Before the Comm. on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, United States Senate (January 28, 2016). wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Jere-Glover-Senate-SBC-SBIR-Reauthorization-Hearing-Testimony-1-28C.pdf. [SBIR/STTR] Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer. Company listing. [accessed 2016 Oct 15]. https:// [SBIR/STTR] Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer. SBIR impact. [accessed 2016 Oct 15]. https:// Link AN, Scott JT. Real numbers: the Small Business Innovation Research program. Issues Sci Technol. 2012 [ accessed 2016 Oct 15] 28(4). Horizon 2020: the EU framework programme for research and innovation. European Union; c1995-2016 [accessed 2016 Oct 15]. https://ec. Robinson N, Byers C. How Ottawa can provide a powerful spark for innovation. The Globe and Mail [2016 Dec 9; 2016 Dec 12]. article33271628/.

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 319-330, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright Š 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

ISSN 1949-8241 â&#x20AC;˘ E-ISSN 1949-825X

THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING INNOVATION: WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF INNOVATION AND HOW DO WE CULTIVATE THEM? Victor Poirier1, Lyle H. Schwartz1, David Eddy1, Richard Berman1,2, Selim Chacour1, James J. Wynne1,3, William Cavanaugh1, Dean F. Martin1,4, Robert Byrne1,5, and Paul R. Sanberg1,6 1

Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation, USF Research & Innovation, Tampa, FL, USA 2 College of Global Sustainability, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA 3 IBM Research Headquarters, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA 4 Department of Chemistry, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA 5 College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, FL, USA 6 Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

This paper will review current thinking about innovation and identify key innovative traits as initial steps in exploring the feasibility of teaching innovative thinking. While education may not be able to create innovative traits in individuals, education may improve the ability of individuals to utilize the traits they already possess. Therefore, we begin by defining innovation and identifying the characteristics, traits, and thought processes of innovative individuals or groups of individuals and the environments that they exist in using the existing literature and personal experience. This information will help formulate a process to educate individuals to better utilize their innovative traits. If we can envision a curve depicting the utilization of traits, where on the left of the curve we would place individuals with a low utilization, on the right of the curve would be individuals with a very high utilization rate, and in the middle a distribution between the two extremes, our goal would be to develop an educational process whereby we could show individuals how to fully utilize the traits they have, awaken traits that are dormant, and, in so doing, shift the distribution toward fuller utilization. With greater utilization of innovative traits, we could then expect to increase the number of innovations that individuals or groups of individuals contribute to our society. Key words: Innovation; Creativity; Entrepreneurship; Abstract thinking; Motivation

and identifying the characteristics associated with innovative individuals. Although it is unlikely that education can create an innovative trait in an individual, education may very well be able to improve the ability of individuals to utilize the innovative traits they possess. Therefore, we place particular emphasis on the characteristics, traits, and thought processes of innovative individuals or groups of individuals and

INTRODUCTION While the innovative process is critical, relatively little is known about how we can cultivate innovative thinking. Given the centrality of innovation to current educational and business efforts, this is a crucial gap to fill. This paper starts with what we do know about innovation, exploring the current views on innovation, articulating the innovation process, _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Victor Poirier, USF Research & Innovation, University of South Florida, 3702 Spectrum Blvd., Suite 165, Tampa, FL 33612-9445




the environments in which they exist. These characteristics, gathered from the existing literature as well as from personal experience, can then be used as the foundation for an educational process to educate individuals to better utilize the innovative traits that they possess and to awaken those that are dormant. With improved utilization, individuals could improve their innovative thinking and increase the quality and number of innovations they create. What Is Innovation? Innovation has many different definitions, but, in its most simplistic form, “it is the introduction of something new and different that is brought into our society” (1), specifically “something different that has impact” (2). Innovation, which is created from inspiration and creativity, is not limited to the areas of science or engineering but can be viewed as a universal concept. For instance, an individual studying the arts should be exposed to the concepts of innovation. We should instill in this nascent artist the desire and drive to innovate, to create something beyond what exists, and to develop new art, thus providing the roadmap to excel in his or her domain. Innovative thinking is critical to everyday lives, regardless of individual interests and passions, because it provides societal value (3). In addition to occurring in a variety of domains, innovation may and often does occur at the interface of different disciplines and requires collaboration among individuals from different backgrounds and experiences. While innovation is critical to improvements in how we live, how we benefit from the changes that occur, and how we can enjoy life more fully, innovation is not all positive. The literature is replete with what we might call negative innovation (4,5). The technological unemployment that is created from a technological advancement or innovation, as extensively covered by MIT’s David Autor (6), is one clear example. Oftentimes, it is more complex still, encompassing both sides of the dichotomy. Innovation can come into being as a new idea, creative process, or, as is in most cases, the evolutionary improvements on existing products, processes, or concepts (2). It improves an object, device, or concept, or creates a novel process that could be used to solve a problem. A particular innovation can be one

or all of these things. Positive innovation is viewed as an ongoing improvement of an existing product or an extension of an existing understanding. It is not limited to the development of a new and novel single product. It can be a process of adding bits and pieces to an existing product or process, an addition that improves what was there in the first place (7). Innovation is the extension of understanding to reach new technical options and arenas. Innovation includes the strategies and technical supporting structures as well as standards and norms that allow applications, certitude of impact, and entrepreneurship. Positive innovation must provide societal value and have impact in the present or near future; it must be better than what exists, and an innovation cannot be trivial (3). The process of innovation, which we will discuss next, requires seeing what others don’t see or can’t see. THE PROCESS OF INNOVATION The elements of the process to move an inspiration to public acceptance can be described as follows: Inspiration—Creativity—Motivation—Entrepreneurship—Innovation. We have arrived at this process by analyzing the definition of innovation as stated in the prior paragraph and breaking it down into logical components. The beginning of the process is usually associated with a fragmented inspiration that, in time, is further developed by joining with other fragmented thoughts to finally arrive at a complete creative inspiration. At this point, the motivated entrepreneur must bring the developed creative thought forward to determine if it has societal acceptance, is better than what exists, and has value and impacts society in the near term as well as in the long term. However, this process is not always orderly, as the motivation to accomplish something great can take precedence over inspiration in initiating the innovation process. In the innovation process, an inspiration or a creative thought cannot stand on its own. Inspiration is subordinated to innovation, as innovation requires significant societal value and can stand the test of time. The innovation must prove that it is novel and genuinely new and is valued sufficiently to allow the process of entrepreneurship to begin to add it to the culture of our society. Innovation is rarely created by one individual who has an inspiration;

THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING INNOVATION it often requires multiple individuals who provide novel incremental insights, adding bits and pieces to improve the original idea (3). Each individual involved must possess the skill and the will in order to sustain the processes of innovation and maximize the likelihood of success. Alternately, inspiration can be evoked spontaneously or appear after a period of time in response to an unsolved problem or condition. Inspiration can be characterized as the process of being mentally stimulated to do something creative. According to Thrash and Elliot, inspiration involves being inspired by something and acting on that inspiration, and it has three main motivational qualities: evocation, transcendence, and approach motivation (8). In regards to evocation, Kaufman, building on Thrash and Elliot, posits that “inspiration is evoked spontaneously and without intention by something—whether it’s an idea that comes from within, an inspiring person such as a role model, or a divine revelation” (9). He also noted that inspiration requires transcendence, or the ability to rise above mundane and often-selfish concerns, in order to achieve “a moment of clarity and awareness of new possibilities” (9). Finally, “inspiration involves approach motivation, in which the individual strives to transmit, express, or actualize a new idea or vision” (9). In addition to being more open to new experiences and more absorbed and engaged in their tasks, inspired people are more intrinsically motivated and less extrinsically motivated (9). They are often driven by the inner satisfaction of doing good, accomplishing something to benefit society (10). This type of motivated inspiration is a critical energizing force behind successful innovation. In contrast, extrinsically motivated individuals are often driven by their egos to receive public praise and to benefit themselves (10). Intrinsic motivation, then, is one of the most important keys to success and is present whenever there is a clear vision, realizable goals, and a strong belief in one’s ability (11). Since motivation emanates from within the individual, it is important to bolster that inner power by immersing oneself in an environment with similarly motivated individuals, as motivation and positive attitude are contagious (11). Motivation can also be strengthened in individuals through the process of education (11). Goal setting is an important aspect


to successful motivation provided that goals are set at a manageable level. By dividing major goals into smaller goals, it is easier to motivate oneself when it appears that the goal is more feasible and attainable. Persistence is a trait that improves motivation, as it forces individuals to finish what they have started. Finally, individuals need to train themselves to read about subjects in which they have an interest to maintain their enthusiasm and ambition as they set and accomplish goals (11). Contrary to the view that inspiration is purely mystical or divine, inspiration is best viewed as an interaction between one’s current knowledge and the information one receives from the world, which can increase the likelihood of experiencing inspiration. For example, individuals who prepare for an inspirational experience by having a positive attitude, an open mind, and an approach-oriented attitude will be more likely to experience and be mindful of inspiration (9). Finally, innovation requires public acceptance, which can be and often is achieved through the process of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur is an individual who is willing to take risks to achieve a goal, to take an innovation to the public. They are pioneers, leaders, inventors, and business professionals who are motivated and driven to make an innovation successful. Characteristics of Innovation Noted author Steven Johnson listed six key characteristics of innovation (7) that resonate with the authors’ experiences. The first is the importance of timing, which is crucial in the process of translating inspiration to innovation. The history of cultural progress, including technological and scientific advances, is a story of one door leading to another door, as we explore one room at a time. Unfortunately, breakout ideas that are 50 years ahead of their time almost always end up being short-term failures because they are ahead of their time. The idea was right, but the environment was not ready to receive and support it. Johnson’s second point addresses the key question: Where do good ideas come from? Ideas are not created as a single event; they are more like a swarm. Ideas are akin to a specific constellation of



thousands of neurons, firing in sync for the first time in the brain, resulting in the creation of an idea that pops into consciousness. He proposes that a new idea is a network of cells exploring the adjacent possible connections that they can make in the mind. What matters in the mind is not just the number of neurons but the myriad connections that have formed among them. The question here is how can a person push their brain to those more creative networks? Johnson also points out that to make the mind more innovative, it needs to be placed inside environments that share that same network signature: networks of ideas or people that mimic the neural network of a mind exploring the boundaries. Although ideas occur inside minds, these minds are connected to external networks that shape the flow of information and inspiration out of which great ideas are fashioned. Just as we have neural networks in our heads that push us to new levels of innovative thinking, we have social networks that help us to push the current boundaries of innovative thinking. What is clear is that great ideas and improvements can occur when individuals with varying backgrounds discuss their thoughts and ideas freely, allowing them to formulate different ways of looking at a complex problem and establishing connections to the boundaries of other technologies and other environments. Johnson goes on to discuss a third characteristic of innovation: Ideas or inspirations rarely produce immediate innovative thoughts and require time to develop. These ideas and inspirations lack key components, which may be supplied by other individuals. The idea or inspiration requires that it be immersed in a network or environment conducive to developing innovative thoughts. Partial ideas can connect with other ideas to establish a complete thought. Timing is key, as ideas need to be stored in the subconscious until connections are made to fill in the gaps. To think of something that other individuals have not thought of or make a connection not made by others requires patience and insight. Incubation in either network (neural or social) is necessary to overcome the initial limitations of innovative thinking. How do individuals continually remain open to multiple perspectives and persist beyond the obvious initial answers or assumptions? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a combination of timing, patience, and persistence.

The fourth feature he describes involves idea generation. Thoughts, ideas, hunches, or inspirations that occur in the brain may be generated by the random firing of neurons via small synaptic gaps. These random firings can connect to adjacent sites and can form more complete ideas and thought processes. These new ideas and thought processes can then further combine with other partial thoughts after being immersed in a network of others whose brains have been shaped by different disciplines. Partial thoughts can then cross boundaries to other compatible thoughts to fill missing gaps in key ideas, leading to innovation. Inspirations obtained from dreams have solved many significant problems, as pointed out by Johnson. The authors also attest to personal experience of this phenomenon. Robert Thatcher, a neuroscientist from the University of South Florida, suggests the counterintuitive notion that the more disorganized your brain is, the smarter you are (12). But how does one get a particular set of clusters of neurons to fire at the right time? Johnson points out that history has shown that one must separate oneself from everyday interactions. One way is to go for a long walk in solitude and let the brain freely open up the subconscious; another is to experience the power of vacation, immersed in an environment that allows one to think freely, unencumbered by everyday activities. Clearly, there is significant benefit to allowing the free cross-fertilization of ideas and inspirations. Ryan, Deci, and Edward pointed out in their Self-Determination Theory that people can be motivated because they value an activity or because there is strong external coercion and challenges. No single phenomenon reflects the positive potential of human nature as much as intrinsic motivation, the inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges. They suggest that social environments can facilitate or forestall intrinsic motivation by supporting versus thwarting peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s innate psychological needs (13). Unfortunately, this concept has risks, as new ideas and concepts can be stolen by competitors. Johnson suggests that what is needed is an organizational program that allows cross-fertilization to permit partial thoughts, hunches, etc. to disperse and recombineâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a continuous brainstorming session that is active throughout the day and yet is protected from outside sources.

THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING INNOVATION Johnson’s fifth point was that of error or the series of missteps in the development of an innovative process. Error is an important aspect, as it forces you to explore the “why” and the “how,” to get out of one’s comfort zone and look for alternative paths. Psychology professor Charlan Nemeth conducted research that led her to suggest a paradoxical truth about innovation: “Good ideas are more likely to emerge from environments that contain a certain amount of noise and error” (14). We should not forget that error is what made humans possible in the first place. She pointed out that, without noise or error, evolution would stagnate, an endless series of perfect copies that are incapable of change. Indeed, it is possible to say that human progress is simply a huge chain of innovations, i.e., making things better, going back all the way to the basics, such as fire, farming, and animal husbandry. Johnson’s sixth and final point was that of exaptation, or the development of an idea or tool in one field that can be adapted to flourish in another. For example, he points out that a match you lit to illuminate a dark room turns out to have a completely different use when you now open a doorway and discover a room with a pile of logs and a fireplace in it. A tool that helps you see in one context ends up helping you keep warm in another. That’s the essence of exaptation. The importance of this concept is that creativity can flourish when collisions occur from different fields sharing the same space. Employees who primarily shared information with people in their own divisions were less productive from an innovation point of view compared to employees who maintained active links to a more diverse group. Johnson also pointed out the importance of facilitating the environment where people can be exposed to a variety of new ideas and encouraged to piece them together in new ways. This can greatly assist the likelihood of innovation. An iconic example would be Johannes Gutenberg, who took bits and pieces from different fields and merged them together to form an innovative device that changed society: the Gutenberg printing press. He did not conceive an entirely new technology; he took the technology of moveable type, ink, and paper from the Chinese and the press itself from wine makers, modifying and improving this borrowed technology and creating a new innovation to solve an unrelated problem.


THE CHARACTERISTICS OF INNOVATIVE INDIVIDUALS Now that we have reviewed what innovation is, how the innovative process works, and the key characteristics of innovation, we turn to the individual. If we are to understand what innovation is and how it can be improved, we must look at the characteristics that innovative minds possess and how these can be developed and enriched. That is, we must consider how we can “nudge” individuals to use and improve their innovative powers (15). It is not clear that we can create an innovative mind in an individual who does not possess at least some basic characteristics of innovation. It is not our intention, therefore, to try to create it; rather, it is our intention to try to improve what already exists. Can we—by removing blinders, by waking up dormant characteristics, by eliminating the fear of failure and other barriers, and by exposing individuals to the power of innovation—expand the number of individuals in our society who fully utilize these characteristics and contribute to the innovative process? If, for example, individuals can be taught to view failure as a learning tool to improve, that would facilitate looking at alternative avenues to accomplish the desired outcome. Failure would then be just one more barrier to reflect upon and to learn from, just one segment of the innovative process. When we think about the entire adult population in the United States, we can assume a broad variation of experience in cultural background and educational level as well as significant differences in environmental exposure. In this large adult population, we can expect to observe that some people do not have the ability to inspire or innovate while others do. If we evaluate this group of individuals to determine their innovative ability, we would expect a large variation, which would lead us to create a fictitious curve to illustrate a distribution of individuals that utilize innovative traits. Individuals with a low utilization, indicated by a low level of innovative thinking, would be on the left of the curve, while individuals with a high utilization rate would be on the right. The vertical axis would simply indicate the total number of individuals in each segment. The shape of the curve between the two extremes is of little importance at this point, as we do not intend to radically change



the shape of the curve but are simply trying to move individuals that are on the left of the curve to the middle or the right of the curve, shifting the existing curve to the right. By utilizing an educational process, can we shift the curve to the right? Can we educate individuals to more fully utilize the traits they do possess and to awaken those that are dormant? If so, with improved utilization, individuals could enhance their innovative thinking and increase the number of innovations they contribute to society. The first step in this process would be to identify the characteristics, traits, and thought processes innovative individuals possess that set them apart. What distinguishes these individuals from others? How do these individuals interact in groups to cross-fertilize concepts and thoughts, to add bits and pieces to partial ideas in order to create the complete innovation? Common themes and characteristics have been identified in creative individuals by several authors, including Harvard professor Howard Gardner in his book Creating Minds (16). He pointed out that the creative individuals he has studied—Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, T.S. Eliot, Martha Graham, and Mahatma Gandhi—came from locales removed from centers of excellence. The creative minds of his subjects emerged at different times, depending on the domains in which they resided, and took an average of ten years before they reached dominance in their domains. At that point in their lives, these “creators” (as he deems them) tended to migrate towards centers of excellence where they could associate with peers of similar backgrounds to take advantage of cross-fertilization. Gardner’s creators also recognized the importance of bringing their accomplishments to others and of rebelling against control. They had sufficient strength and skill to allow differences of opinion as well as differences from past thinking. During their lifetimes, the creators experienced periods of comfort that quickly changed to periods of severe isolation, especially during a period of a major discovery. During these times of isolation, creators needed special relationships with one or more supportive individuals. In addition to this general profile, there are 14 characteristics that innovative individuals often possess; it is our position that these characteristics can be fostered and developed through innovative education.

Cognitive factors Abstract Thinking and Problem Solving One of the key characteristics that many (but not all) innovative individuals possess is the ability to think abstractly. This involves seeing patterns beyond the obvious and using patterns or a variety of ideas or clues to solve larger problems. In contrast, concrete reasoning involves looking at things on the surface and using this information to solve problems in their most literal sense (17). Concrete thinkers reason in terms of facts, events, and specific examples, whereas abstract thinkers move away from these specific things and reason in terms of generalizations, ideas, and deeper meanings. If abstract thinking can lead to improvements in innovative thoughts, we should be able to use educational techniques to improve the process of abstract thinking in individuals who rarely use these innate traits. By increasing the utilization of abstract thinking in individuals, we can increase the driving force to improvements in innovation and the innovative thinking process. As abstract thinkers can think “outside of the box,” this thinking process will be very beneficial in problem solving by asking pointed questions that no one else has, questions that can lead to solutions (18). This ability to question is key because, when we try to innovate, we need to establish what we want to accomplish; that is, we need to clearly identify the problem that we wish to solve or the condition that we wish to improve. The abstract thinker has the ability to dissect a problem to establish the underlying condition producing the symptoms of the problem. Identifying the underlying condition is of paramount importance to solving the problem and requires that the proper questions be asked—often others don’t ask or can’t ask questions that can only be developed through the process of abstract thinking, where the abstract thinker can play a significant role. In addition to abstract thinking skills, innovators often have superior problem-solving skills. For example, being able to break down a problem into multiple, smaller, actionable problems is beneficial to the innovator in several ways. Smaller problems that are practical and have solutions that can be executed aids considerably in the task of solving the overall problem. Concentrating on smaller problems and

THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING INNOVATION solving one problem at a time also increases confidence and can present a clearer view of the overall problem. Incubation is another key problem-solving strategy of innovators. They are often awake and quietly lying in bed, thinking about a problem while searching for a solution, when, all of a sudden, a solution appears in a clear and precise manner, a subconscious solution that may have been forming for some time travels to the conscious level. Among the authors, several keep pencil and paper by the bed to take notes before the solutions disappear. Knowledge: Depth and Breadth The concept of knowledge is a complex one, as both depth and breadth are connected to innovation (16). Innovation often comes more easily to individuals who are very knowledgeable in their chosen fields, those with a deep understanding of the basic principles of one or more disciplines. However, innovators can also be characterized by a breadth of knowledge, and those individuals can often work well outside their original fields of study. These individuals are often innovation leaders who create change by surrounding themselves with competent experts who can provide depth of expertise in a given area. The Desire to Fill Gaps Innovative individuals seem always to be searching for information to fill gaps in the development of innovative thoughts, continuously looking for and saving bits and pieces of seemingly random information to see if, when joined with other bits and pieces, they can complete prior, partially developed thoughts (7). Motivational factors Motivation: Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation could be described as a combination of internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role, or effort to attain a goal (11). It is the driving force to get things done. Research has shown that innovative individuals are more intrinsically motivated since they are driven by the inner satisfaction of doing something good for society or the desire to solve a difficult problem (13).


Bringing innovation to our society is facilitated by motivated individuals. If individuals understand the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic rewards and are encouraged to act on their inner desires, innovation should follow. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation do not have a dichotomous relationship; rather, they exist on a continuum. According to Ryan and Deci, there are multiple types of motivations, such as external, introjected, internalized, and identified, depending on how their basic needs are satisfied relative to competence, autonomy, and relatedness (13). Understanding different types of motivation is key to promoting innovative efforts. Additionally, no matter the source of the motivation, individuals can improve motivation by employing various strategies. For example, individuals who break down goals into smaller tasks may experience more frequent accomplishments, which can boost inspiration, setting off a productive and creative cycle. Creativity Being creative is fundamental to invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Creativity is the ability to think about the world in new ways, to think from a clear, open perspective, and to be unencumbered by existing knowledge. Howard Gardner described various characteristics of creative individuals. He noted that creative individuals tend to spend a large amount of time thinking about what it was that they wanted to accomplish; tend to leverage whatever strengths they have and not worry about what they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do well, as they can always get help from others; and are ambitious even though they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always succeed. In fact, when creative people fail, they use that failure as a learning experience and build on failure to get better and better (16). He also defined a creative individual as someone who solves problems, fashions products, and/or defines new questions that might be initially novel but, ultimately, are accepted in a setting. Beyond the individual, Gardner argues that creativity is an interactive process in which three elements participate: individual talent, field, and domain/discipline (16). Individuals can and do demonstrate innate creativity and imagination even at very young ages. This can



be seen by observing pre-school children who develop imaginary friends. These individuals create in their minds a complete life-like friend with whom they can play, eat, interact, and talk. They use their innate traits of creativity and imagination to create a world that they are comfortable with. Children who create these companions have very strong imaginations and very high levels of creativity, both of which they can further develop as they enter adulthood (19).

be naysayers who insist that a proposed innovation may be unnecessary or impossible. In the face of opposition, innovators maintain a positive attitude, knowing that their ideas have merit even when others don’t agree. Their positivity not only keeps them moving forward but frequently serves to motivate the entire innovation team. Grit: Persistence and Passion

Innovators recognize that desirable discoveries sometimes happen by accident and understand the role that good fortune and luck can play in the innovation process (3). They have an intense curiosity to see how machines work, how objects are created, how concepts are created, and why processes are what they are. The “how” is usually the driving force rather than the “what.” People who are curious take advantage of spontaneous moments, which helps the innovator overcome the fear of asking a “bad” question. They are motivated to ask: “How did this happen?” Serendipitous moments are important in developing innovation because they force the innovator to pay attention to what the data are telling them and train them to refrain from reading into it something that it is not. Innovators keep an open mind and look at the possible benefits that could emerge from an observed accident and, often, can’t help wondering what would happen in the event that a slight modification to the basic premise took place.

Grit, that combination of persistence and passion identified by Angela Duckworth (20), is a key characteristic among innovators. The discipline to complete what they have started is often a mark of an innovative individual. Persistence is of the upmost importance, as the innovator must not give up or be devastated by failure. Choosing what not to follow or being convinced to stop a particular task, project, or strategy is also important. When at a crossroads, the authors have found that clear and concise analysis to re-establish new directions should be undertaken, with sufficient flexibility to look at alternative paths to achieve the goal. Innovative individuals generally possess intense passion (10), compelling desire, and enthusiasm to make a change or to create something new. It is a strong driving force. These individuals believe strongly in examining existing structures, concepts, or knowledge to improve what already exists. Their passion drives a desire for excellence. Successful innovators are able to finish a project, seeing it through from ideation to completion. They don’t allow distractions to derail them, and they don’t bring a project to completion prematurely.

Risk Taking: No Fear of Failure


While innovators are not necessarily risk takers in the same way as entrepreneurs, they do take risks. Innovators approach their endeavors as challenges, with failure serving as an opportunity for learning. This reduces the focus on risk and the perception of risk. Being wrong, on its own, doesn’t unlock new doors, but it does force the innovator to look for them (7).

Innovators are dissatisfied with what exists and are always looking at what can be improved (3). For example, an individual interested in architecture cannot prevent himself from looking at floor plans for new construction to see if they are correct or lacking in some aspect. For future use, they analyze and store, in their memories or in their notes, information on what they consider good and bad. They are constantly looking at everything in sight, analyzing what they see and mentally looking at what can be improved, asking themselves why things have been done in a certain manner and how they might have been done differently.


Positive Attitude A positive attitude is key for innovators, as their outlook on life allows them to be receptive to new possibilities and opportunities. In addition, because innovators often go against the status quo, there may


It Takes a Village Open-mindedness Innovators are receptive to new information and ideas. They are also skeptical of preconceived ideas, preferring to maintain an open mind and consider limitless possibilities. This ability often gives them an advantage because they can solve problems using lateral thinking to come up with innovative ways to tackle an issue instead of getting bogged down in circular vertical thinking. Cross-Fertilization The ability to bring a new skill set to a field can yield a different perspective on a situation (21). People with a broad knowledge in diverse areas working in association can solve complex problems where individuals cannot. Although being well versed in one or more disciplines is helpful, it is not a necessary requirement. Beyond the individual, organizations can play a major role in moving innovations forward and bringing them to fruition by fostering environments that encourage people to take risks. Working with other motivated individuals in environments that are motivating provides the ideal situation to optimize cross-fertilization of ideas and concepts, resulting in outcomes far superior to what would be realized from one individualâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s thought process (16). Salesmanship: Art of Communication Salesmanship is defined here as the ability to transfer information in a concise and convincing manner with the goal of achieving acceptance of the transferred message. Innovators need to possess the ability to present their ideas and concepts in a clear and precise fashion. To manifest their innovations, they may require financial backing and must be able to convince potential investors to support their vision. They also need to attract individuals to form a team that can assist in the development of the innovation. The same skills in salesmanship may be needed to convince their peers in the scientific community. Vision and Timing An innovator can benefit from being a visionary (10). The ability to look into the future to determine what avenues to follow and what to undertake can


lead to clear thinking and help determine how one can improve what exists today. Innovators must possess the courage to step into the darkness, to learn, and to understand. Because of their vision, innovators have an excellent sense of timing, seeming to understand exactly when the environment is ripe for innovation. They are always scanning the horizon, watching for shifts and trends that signal opportunities for intervention and change. The utilization of all of these innovative traits varies in importance, depending on the domain in which the innovator is immersed. Innovators can also have any combination of these traits, but some of the traits and characteristics may be thought of as being more conducive to innovation than others. The innovator who utilizes abstract thinking, is very motivated, understands the importance of cross-fertilization, is inspired and persistent in trying to achieve goals, is very curious and creative, tends to be dissatisfied with the present situation, and is usually well educated in at least one discipline will likely have the more successful path. CHARACTERISTICS OF INNOVATIVE ENVIRONMENTS Innovative new ideas, as well as incremental new advances, are achieved by groups and by individuals (10). These individuals or groups can be influenced by the environments in which they exist, and they, in turn, can influence their environments. We speak often of Thomas Edison as a great inventor but infrequently of Menlo Park and the variety of minds and skills that were brought together to achieve the actual innovative process. Perhaps in this current era, in which so much innovation comes from the university community, we forget the influence that Edison had in establishing the Naval Research Laboratory and how that lab and the National Bureau of Standards set the stage for research and development during World War II, facilitating not only the Manhattan Project, but also countless innovative new products that influenced how war was fought, as well as how the injured were treated. Some industries, such as Bell Labs and US Steel, had already learned the lessons of Menlo Park before the war, but dozens followed in the post-war years, giving life and substance to the great industries we recognize as Xerox, 3M,



IBM, Apple, Google, and so many others. Similarly, those lessons had impacts on the federal government and led to the great laboratory systems of Department of Energy, Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as many lesser-sized government laboratories in other departments and agencies. Bement, Dutta, and Patil, in addition to noting the importance of the organization, observed that physical spaces for free open and informal discussions can lead to improvements in innovation (3). Facility ergonomics are important to maximize the cross pollination of the inventive capacity of an organization: offices, labs, common sharing areas, large gathering areas for open technical reviews, and poster sessions (3). Johnson also indicated that physical spaces work hand in hand with organizational inspiration to build information networks that allow hunches to persist, disperse, and recombine, creating an environment where brainstorming is something that is constantly running in the background throughout the organization (7). In order to maximize the ability to collaborate effectively and foster improvement in innovation, Bement et al. identify four key aspects. The first is proximity, which ensures that multi-disciplinary people are close to each other. The second is independence, as individuals need to be independent if they are to collaborate. The third is open areas for freeform discussions and experimentations. And the fourth is privacy, for most innovative thinking happens during private downtime (3). Within the great laboratories and collaborative innovation environments, there are many common themes, but there are also many differing tactics to create an environment rich with opportunity for innovation. Group effort requires both inspiration and management. Institutions, such as the ones mentioned above, identify strategic areas of corporate (or governmental) interest; bring the elements, people, facilities, and work environment together; search for and encourage areas of potential opportunity; organize paths to progress; and exploit innovations when revealed. In order to make this process successful, companies and other entities must set the stage for success.

NEXT STEPS Having considered the innovation process, the traits of innovative individuals, and the importance of innovative environments, we must now consider how to use this information to create an efficient and effective educational process to concretely improve innovation outcomes. We believe that we do not need to try to create innovative characteristics; rather, we simply need to show individuals how to cultivate innovative thought by: 1) fully utilizing the traits they already possess, 2) awakening dormant traits, and 3) understanding the importance of contextual factors, or the innovation environment. In doing so, we would “shift the curve to the right,” allowing individuals to improve their innovative thinking and increase the quality and number of innovations they create. Looking ahead to that task, we must consider what educators can do to help individuals identify and improve their innovative characteristics and how they can help those individuals collaborate successfully by providing an effective innovation environment. In order to take this next step, we will need to consider the following key questions: • What are the most effective pedagogical methods to teach the habits of mind associated with creativity and innovation? • What resources—human, material, and organizational—can be assembled to provide the best foundation for understanding innovative thinking? • How can the development and execution of innovative thought be best assessed? • In what situations do individual and collective innovations complement or conflict with each other? How can both types of innovation—individual and collective—be best supported? • How can we create effective innovation environments for our student innovators? • How do we address various levels of knowledge and ability regarding innovation among student populations? • What pedagogical techniques and classroom policies can be employed to promote innovative thinking? • What study design and instruments would be appropriate to implement and employ for the

THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING INNOVATION collection and analysis of data on creative and innovative thinking? In addition to a consideration of these crucial questions, we must also consider potential roadblocks or resistance. For instance, there may be resistance from students and faculty given that innovative thinking is often thought to be an inborn and unchangeable trait. Some students and faculty may also be resistant to the idea that innovation, which they may view as a spontaneous and unstructured outburst of creative thought, can be taught in an organized and purposeful way. Moreover, the nature of such a course would require a high level of student involvement and independence as well as the ability to confront failure and grapple with ill-defined problems, all of which may place some students well outside their comfort zones. A careful consideration of these key questions and potential roadblocks will be crucial in moving forward—beyond the identification of innovative traits—to the development of an educational process with the appropriate metrics to assess its effectiveness. To that end, members of the Institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation at the University of South Florida, including the authors, are part of an experimental training program in innovation and anticipate future publications to report on the results of these efforts. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors would like to acknowledge the valuable support provided by Dr. Kimberly Macuare, Dr. Sarah Kiefer, and Dr. Michael Cross.



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Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, pp. 331-342, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X


1 Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA Science and Engineering Education, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA

This paper addresses a special subset of U.S. school students for whom innovation is innate and intuitive; they are the young innovators-in-the-making (YIITM). In considering these students, we need to ask several key questions. Are elementary and middle school teachers capable of keeping the innate, innovative desire burning in these young minds? Are teachers capable of nurturing youth who seek to understand the world around them in scientific terms? Are teachers inadvertently quenching the innate, innovative, and creative desire in these young minds? Do young minds strongly attracted to science and engineering have ambition and inclination beyond the comprehension of elementary and middle school teachers? Evidence provided in this paper from earlier research indicates that youth with an early interest in engineering and science may find their schoolteachers incapable of understanding and helping them. The question addressed at the end of the paper is: What is the best way to prepare teachers who can ultimately understand, develop, and encourage science- and engineering-oriented youth? Some policy issues are addressed, and several research hypotheses are proposed for future empirical investigation. Key words: Young science and engineering innovators; Teaching young innovators; Teacher qualitifications; Preparing teachers of young innovators; Facilities and resources in schools; ACT and SAT tests

market and is a worthy competitor to established or former U.S. technology leaders, such as Apple, Motorola, Zenith, RCA, and others. In fact, in many technologies and products, Samsung has wrested the leadership from iconic U.S. technology companies. It is not a surprise that South Korean student performance ranks 7th in science and 5th in math on the 2012 PISA. The latest PISA results indicate that the average U.S. teenager is behind the rest of the industrialized world in science. There are several negative

A LINGERING PROBLEM According to the 2012 report of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) (1,2), U.S. teenagers ranked 21st in science and 26th in math among 34 industrialized nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This should not be acceptable for a nation aspiring to remain the technology leader among all nations. Several nations now have the workforce and innovators to challenge the U.S.; for example, South Korea’s Samsung is a technology leader in the global _____________________

Accepted November 30, 2016. Address correspondence to Paul Swamidass, Ph.D., Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA. E-mail: swamipm@auburn. edu




implications of this for gifted students. The gifted or exceptional science and math students who are young innovators-in-the-making (YIITM) may be hindered by the prevailing culture’s de-emphasis on science, which is reflected in the underachievement of students in science and math. Given the typical school systems in the U.S., significant segments of our student population may be left out of promising careers in science and engineering, which means schools are also discarding potential innovators-in-the-making. Teachers and school administrators have the power to change this status quo. Some non-teachers are already doing something about it (3-7), and perhaps teachers and administrators should be doing more as well. Do Innovators-in-the-Making Have “Special Needs” While in School? YIITM are not typical children. They are naturally inquisitive and experimental and are attracted to the science and engineering challenges that the average child in school might avoid or shun. Adult innovators push the boundaries of science and create new products and solutions that make life better for the rest of us and help produce jobs for everyone. Potential innovators, now students in school, will eventually join this subgroup if they are encouraged, nurtured, and mentored by capable teachers and/or parents from an early age. This small subset of children has special/ advanced needs that go unrecognized for the most part. They need special understanding and attention if they are to grow up to be future innovators. The U.S. needs teachers qualified to identify, understand, and teach these YIITM. The science classroom in schools is the ideal place to encourage YIITM, as scientific literacy is the gateway to careers in engineering and technology. Given the lagging nature of science skills revealed by the PISA report, this small set of YIITM may be falling between the cracks. We address the severity of this need using existing research; however, we offer new interpretations of published research and offer recommendations for rescuing our YIITM, who need special attention from teachers if they are to reach their full potential during and after the K-12 school years.

The Lagging Nature of Science Skills of U.S. Students at Large The state of science education in the United States has long been a topic of debate, especially in the years following the pioneering 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite, Sputnik. After Sputnik shocked the U.S., Hurd (8) published a short position paper entitled “Science Literacy: Its Meaning for American Schools” based on the thesis that scientific knowledge was no longer a luxury for just some American students and arguing that an understanding of both science and its applications in technology was needed across the student body. However, as the first paragraph of this paper states, more than fifty years after Hurd, U.S. students are still doing poorly in science compared with the rest of the industrialized world. According to a 2011 Nation’s Report Card by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (9), only 31% of 8th grade students performed at a proficient level in science on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The test has a scale from 0 to 300 with a national mean of 151. Public school students in Mississippi scored the lowest with a mean of 137; 53% of students scored below basic, and only 19% scored proficient or advanced. Public school students in North Dakota scored the highest with a mean of 164; 18% of students scored below basic, and 45% of students scored proficient or advanced. An average state was Pennsylvania, where public school students scored 151; 34% of students scored below basic, and 35% of students scored proficient or advanced (10). Taking a closer look at an average state, such as Pennsylvania, reveals a hidden nationwide problem. In Pennsylvania in 2012, only 42% of 11th grade students passed the science section of the statewide Pennsylvania School System of Assessment (PSSA) (Table 1) (11). Table 1. Statewide Passing Performance in PSSA Tests, 2012


60% passed


68% passed


42%* passed


83% passed

*Average for math, reading and writing: 70% (Data provided by

TEACHING FUTURE INNOVATORS It is disturbing that only 42% of public school children passed the statewide science exam in Pennsylvania, while, in the same state, on the average, 70% of the students passed math, reading, and writing tests, nearly a 30-percentage-point difference. Why this great disparity in our students’ science capabilities? Are there NEW explanations for this phenomenon that we must consider? That is the question addressed by this paper along with some potential solutions and policy recommendations. Inner-City Children Are Totally Left Out of Science In certain schools in inner-city Philadelphia, 2% or fewer 11th graders passed the PSSA science exam in 2012; for example, only 2% of Martin Luther King High School’s 11th grade students passed the state PSSA exam for science (Table 2) (12). Table 2. Martin Luther King High School Performance Results for 2012: Percent of Students Passing PSSA Tests









(Data provided by

While students in many inner-city schools are performing poorly across the board, note the absolute lack of performance in science: Only 1% passed in 2009, 0% passed in 2010, and 2% passed in both 2011 and 2012. Since a passing rate of 0% to 2% can be considered a measurement error, we can conclude that science proficiency is virtually non-existent. This school is not alone. A sample of four schools, Overbrook High School, South Philadelphia High School, West Philadelphia High School, and Martin Luther King High School, averaged 3.7% in biology proficiency among 11th graders in 2014; these four schools had an average graduation rate of 53% (all data from The level of student non-performance we see in these illustrative schools, arguably, may be attained WITHOUT TEACHING SCIENCE and without employing teachers and laboratories. Of relevance to this investigation, the laws of statistics would suggest


that a significant number of science-capable students attend the sample of schools above as well as other schools in similar locations that have non-performing students in science; in these schools, science-capable students will be non-performers too. This is a serious matter although it has received little attention, and the great majority of the public does not know that there are schools in the U.S. where no high-school student can pass a state-level science exam. In the above-mentioned case of Martin Luther King High School, seven to 15 times as many students pass non-science subjects. A National Problem The evidence is clear: In statewide schools, and more so in inner-city schools, science performance significantly lags behind performance in reading, writing, and math. In the judgement of the authors, this problem has not become a part of our public conversation as it should be; in our assessment, either this is an incurable problem, or, as a nation, we do not want to tackle the problem. In the following sections, evidence is presented that points to a previously unnoticed classroom factor that may explain a source of the problem. To resolve it, we need to make some significant changes and perhaps adopt some difficult policy decisions. HOW DO WE RESPOND TO THE PROBLEM? We are Importing Innovators “More than three out of every four patents at the top 10 patent-producing U.S. universities (76%) had at least one foreign-born inventor. More than half of all patents (54%) were awarded to…foreign inventors,” says a report from the Partnership for a New American Economy (13). The report also found that “foreign-born inventors played especially large roles in cutting-edge fields like semiconductor device manufacturing (87%), information technology (84%), pulse or digital communication (83%), pharmaceutical drugs or drug compounds (79%), and optics (77%).” When U.S. school students are performing poorly in science, it is fortunate that international students with strong science and engineering backgrounds attend our universities and contribute to our science and engineering infrastructure. Nonetheless, the data



begs the question, “How could we produce more U.S. innovators?” The Role of Parents in the Early Start of Innovators For decades, this nation has been desperately trying to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in K-12 to prepare our school students for technological innovation, but some compelling evidence from research shows that our innovative children may not get the needed attention and support early in school life unless their parents get involved (14), as in the cases outlined below. “How to be a GEEK DAD,” by Adam Savage, of Mythbusters TV-show fame, was WIRED magazine’s cover story (15) in an issue whose running theme may be summarized as, “Before I was a geek dad, I was a geeky kid.” Indeed, many future innovators started early. Elon Musk, age 45, born in South Africa in 1971, is a well-known innovator in the U.S. with a blockbuster series of innovations, including SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and PayPal. He is not done yet; he is floating mega-technology project ideas that can change the way we live. It is reported that he got his first computer at age 10 and learned programing, and at age 12, he sold his first commercial space game called Blaster for about $500. His company SpaceX successfully launched the first Dragon space capsule on May 22, 2012, for eventual docking in space with the International Space Station. The capsule was launched with SpaceX’s own Falcon 9 rockets after NASA retired its entire fleet of space shuttles. That such technological successes would be within the reach of private companies was unthinkable 20 to 30 years ago. Young Elon Musk got an early start, and it is more than a coincidence that his father was an engineer. The founder of Twitter and Square, Inc., Jack Dorsey, had early encouragement and introduction to advanced science and engineering thought processes through his father. Square, Inc. introduced a square attachment, about one square inch in size, that enables smart phones to accept credit cards anywhere and everywhere, which is an innovation causing the company to be listed as one of the top five “Most Innovative Companies of 2012” by Ellen McGirt, of

(16), relates a telling anecdote about Dorsey’s father, who is an engineer and entrepreneur, helping his son build a model of a mass spectrometer—something most adults would not even recognize—out of LEGO blocks when he was 11. Clearly, an early start, coupled with parental mentoring, brings out the innovative genius in children. Selling Engineering to Girls Early in Life Outside of Schools Females are underrepresented in engineering and engineering innovation. Debbie Sterling (4-7), as a student at Stanford’s College of Engineering, saw the obvious: There are very few women in engineering. For decades, numerous national and state funded STEM programs have spent millions if not billions to correct this with limited success. Sterling set out to do something about it although she was neither training to be a schoolteacher nor preparing to work for a school district or a federal/state department of education. As a concerned citizen, inventor, and entrepreneur, she saw an obvious need to address a lingering problem, and she attempted to set it right with a novel and innovative private-sector response. In order to assist girls to choose an engineering career, she reasoned that girls, from an early age, need toys that wake up the silent and dormant engineering potential in them. She designed a toy with girls in mind, invested thousands of dollars of her own money to produce a high-quality prototype, and tested it with about 100 parents and their children, a process which revealed a strong demand for her engineering-oriented toy among girls. Armed with her test results, she used a powerful video (4) to appeal for funds on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to launch a new business called GoldieBlox to design, produce, and sell engineering-themed toys for girls. She was overwhelmed by the response to her appeal on Kickstarter; she raised over $285,000 in five days—far in excess of her target—before she went into production. Her line of specialty toys for channeling girls to engineering education became bestsellers by 2013 (17). After completing the immense task of fulfilling the initial orders for her toy, this is what Sterling said on her blog, “Ultimately, we’ve learned that the world is ready for this idea. Engineering toys for girls

TEACHING FUTURE INNOVATORS are here to stay. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re working hard on our product development, making improvements to the first toy, getting the next ones ready to ship, and dreaming up new adventures for Goldieâ&#x20AC;? (5). Her toys are now accessible to girls and their parents all over the world through as well as large brick and mortar stores; as of 2016, at least 11 different GoldieBlox toys are marketed by on its website. Sterling has made a significant contribution to meeting the formidable challenge of generating interest in engineering among generally disinterested girls at an early age; she is making it acceptable for girls to be interested in engineering although the popular culture draws girls away from all things engineering (see her powerful video motivating girls to take up engineering (6)). Her products are so successful that her business could afford to place an advertisement during the 2014 Super Bowl, where a 30-second spot for a commercial is the most expensive in the U.S. because the TV audience could be the largest in a given year (18). Later in this paper, we propose controlled studies to gauge the lasting effect of GoldieBlox toys on girls. However, we do know that parents now have the option of giving toys meant to wake up the inner engineer in girls when they are still very young; they do not have to depend on public schools entirely. Why is Debbie Sterling relevant? She is creative (19) and innovative. She recognized the need to create interest in engineering issues, ideas, and contraptions among girls still in pre-school and elementary school, girls who could become future technological innovators. The efforts of Debbie Sterling and her commercial success confirm that we need to take a fresh look at the problem of lagging science competency and interest in substantial, non-trivial segments of our student population, including inner-city children, who seem to be left out of science today. Could We Afford the Loss of Innovators? The dominant culture could have stopped Sterling from seeking an engineering career. What would have been the loss if Debbie Sterling had not taken to engineering and instead chose one of the conventional career paths for women? A great loss to millions of girls, their parents, employees of her company, the employees of suppliers to her company, and


distributors of her toys, at least. The case of Debbie Sterling exemplifies the fact that every potential innovator who is turned away, at an early age, from science and engineering is a great loss to the society. In our research on technological innovators, we found some disturbing evidence that young future technological innovators may find K-12 schools a difficult place because their teachers may be incapable of understanding, mentoring, and helping future innovators grow and develop. THE ROLE OF SPATIAL SKILLS Engineers/Scientists are Different: Their Spatial Ability Stands Out Studies at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, supported by Templeton Foundation and the National Institute of Child Health and Development (Figure 1), graphically show the spatial abilities of graduates from various common disciplines in a typical university: engineering, physical sciences, math/computer science, biological sciences, humanities, social sciences, arts, business, and education. Note the stark difference in spatial skills between graduates from the colleges of engineering and education. We hypothesize that, to effectively understand, assist, and motivate a child with high spatial skills and a potential engineer-innovator, teachers would need reasonably high spatial skills too. While we cannot expect all teachers in a given school to be endowed with generous spatial skills, schools need at least a few teachers with strong spatial skills to interact with such children on a regular basis. Complex Spatial Thinking Ability Spatial thinking, spatial ability, spatial structuring, or whatever it is called, is a collection of unique thinking skills (20) that collectively form an enabling skill for engineers and scientists. It allows us to hold objects in the mindâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye and mentally manipulate them. Researchers report that there are several types of spatial abilities. Three different assessments and aspects of spatial ability are summarized below. Andersen describes visual-spatial ability as a component of individual intelligence that is made up of two components: visualization and imagery (21). Ganesh, Wilhelm, and Sherrod recognize spatial



Figure 1: Average Z scores of participants on general ability level and spatial, mathematical, and verbal ability levels for bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and Ph.D. degrees plotted by field. Note for Figure 1: For education and business, masters and doctorates were combined because the doctorate samples for these groups were to small to obtain stability (n 30). Average z scores of participants on spatial, mathematical, and verbal ability for bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and Ph.D.s are plotted by field in the figure. The groups are plotted in rank order of their normative standing on g verbal (V), spatial (S), and mathematical (M) along the x-axis, and each arrow indicates on the continuous scale where each field lies on general mental ability. All x-axis values are based on the weighted means across each degree grouping. This figure is standardized in relation to all participants with complete ability data at the time of initial testing. Respective ns for each group (males and females) were as follows (for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorates, respectively): engineeering (1,143, 339, 71), physical science (633, 182, 202), math/compter science (877, 266, 57), biological science (740, 182, 79), humanities (3,226, 695, 82), social science (2,609, 484, 158), arts (615, masters & doctorates 171), business (2,386 masters & doctorates 191), and education (3,403, master’s & doctorates 1,505). Figure and note reproduced from Wai Lubinksi, and Benbow, 2009.

visualization, spatial projection, cardinal directions, and periodic patterns as important components of spatial ability (22). Finally, Linn and Petersen describe it as spatial perception, mental rotation, and spatial visualization (23). In practice, spatial perception uses one’s sense of gravitational up and down despite conflicting information; it is the ability to straighten a painting on the wall even when the ceiling above the painting that forms a reference is inclined. Mental rotation is the ability to imagine a 2D or 3D object rotated about

any of its many axes and then being able to promptly recognize how that object would appear after the rotation. Spatial visualization is a complex analytical process where one is not only able to rotate objects in the mind but is also able to keep track of multiple steps of the process while working rapidly. When the definitions of various researchers are combined, spatial thinking reduces to one’s ability to mentally visualize, rotate, transform, represent, and recognize symbolic information.


Spatial Skills Are Necessary for STEM Problem Solving Spatial thinking is an important mental capability that helps problem solving (24) by understanding various underlying math and science concepts, such as geometry, chemistry (25, 26), or engineering design (27). More generally, it helps us understand the world around us, manipulate objects, or design, build, and create in many dimensions. Spatial thinking can be challenging to some. Here are some instances where spatial thinking is in play: assembling IKEA furniture from pictures, programing a robot, putting together a 1000-piece puzzle, or describing to a tourist how to get to the post office across town. Regardless of its value and importance, this skill often lacks formal recognition (21,28). Spatial thinking is at the center of many scientific discoveries, engineering marvels, and great works of art. Examples of significant spatial thinking are: 1. James Watson and Francis Crick visualizing and modeling the 3D structure of DNA from a 2D x-ray photo taken by Rosalind Franklin (29) 2. Einstein visualizing himself riding on a beam of light, which helped him develop the theory of special relativity (30) NASA launched a spacecraft from one rotating object in space (Earth) and landed it safely on another rotating object that was also revolving about us (Moon), a feat requiring considerable spatial thinking to ensure its success. Spatial thinking is universal and necessary for recognizing and posing problems before proposing and expressing solutions, and it is an essential ingredient for inventors. In their report, “Learning to Think Spatially,” the National Academy of Sciences recommends that spatial literacy be fostered in youth to equip them better for life and for work in the modern technological world. The report encourages the design of curricula that infuse spatial thinking across different school subjects. One concern of the report’s authors is that spatial thinking may “remain locked in a curious educational twilight zone: extensively relied on across the K-12 curriculum but not explicitly and systematically instructed in any part of the curriculum” (28). This leads us to two important questions: “How do we develop and impart spatial thinking in children?”


and “How do we develop and impart spatial thinking in teachers?” Are Standardized Tests Stacked Against Students with Strong Spatial Skills? On the one hand, as a nation, we have been supporting various initiatives and programs to build and strengthen STEM education and skills. Ironically, on the other hand, perhaps unknown to policy makers and proponents of STEM education, ACT and SAT tests may be stacked against students with high spatial skills. Students who have high spatial aptitude have the skills needed for success in STEM professions because they have the ability to think visually with images and pictures and see beyond the limitations caused by words (31). However, they may be underachievers in school due to their neglected strengths and may be left out by college admission programs when they achieve low scores on the SAT and ACT examinations (21), which are designed to assess intelligence only through verbal and mathematical reasoning and neglect spatial thinking. This testing bias is not a new phenomenon. In 1921, psychologist Lewis Terman administered the Stanford-Binet test to schoolchildren in California in order to identify the 1000 brightest youth in the state. Two of these test takers, William Shockley and Louis Alvarez, scored below the 135 IQ cut off. However, they both went on to win Nobel Prizes in physics, a discipline requiring strong spatial skills. It could be that the Stanford-Binet, like the SAT and ACT, does not measure spatial intelligence (32). Andersen calls for a broader/more balanced approach in measuring intelligence, one that includes spatial ability as an indicator of holistic intelligence in addition to the verbal and mathematical skills now measured by tests (21). Project Talent, a study of data on 400,000 people over 50 years (starting in 1960), compared spatial abilities in adolescence to later career choices, and their results show why addressing the intelligence testing gap/bias is imperative. They found a direct correlation between high spatial reasoning scores and the choice of STEM careers even when math and verbal skills were controlled (33,34).



Insight into Spatial Ability of Typical Schoolteachers Classrooms in U.S. schools may be unwelcome places for future engineering majors and potential innovators (34,35). Figure 1, reported by Wai et al. (34), indicates that education degree holders score the lowest on spatial skills, while engineering graduates score the highest among all college graduates at all levels: bachelorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, and doctoral levels. Figure 1 uses Project TALENT data collected from about 400,000 high school students in the 1960s and includes data collected from their respondents eleven years after graduation. Some inferences from Figure 1 might be: 1. Potential technological innovators may score high in spatial abilities 2. Most schoolteachers recruited from colleges of education may be strong in many subjects but not spatial abilities 3. There may not be sufficient numbers of school teachers in the elementary and middle schools to guide and mentor engineering-oriented children with high spatial skills 4. Teachers lacking spatial skills may unknowingly and unwittingly discourage students enthused by engineering/science issues, problems, and challenges 5. Teachers lacking spatial skills may steer students into non-engineering activities inside and outside the classroom by subtle rewards and admonishments 6. Schools may have a widespread shortage of teachers attuned to science and engineering unless they recruit engineering graduates, but this is not occurring 7. If parents are socio-economically disadvantaged with insufficient education, the child may not have a parent who could substitute for the

shortcomings of the childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s teacher in science and engineering. A child with science and engineering skills from one of these homes would be ill-served at home and at school; there would be no safety net at home when schools fail to provide an environment that promotes science and engineering in the classroom. As a reminder, let us give credit to all our U.S. schoolteachers, who provide a strong education to our young students in reading, writing, social studies, and several non-STEM subjects and do their best to teach science and mathematics. Who Is Teaching Future Innovators in Our Schools? Table 3 summarizes the differences in spatial skills evident in Figure 1 between undergraduate degree holders from the colleges of education and engineering in terms of standard deviation (z-score). The last column in the table estimates that engineering degree holders are about one standard deviation stronger than education degree holders. This table suggests at least two conclusions: 1) The extent of the difference in spatial skills is significantly large and not a marginal difference (one standard deviation difference), and 2) Because of the magnitude of the difference, education college graduates may not acquire spatial skills merely by more training and education. Given the specific shortfall in teacher skills in Table 3, it would be difficult or impossible for the average schoolteacher to model specific thinking skills that would inspire future engineering students while they are still in school. The potential effect on young innovators in our schools could be one or more of the following: 1. Future innovators may be bored in the classroom and may become dropouts,

Table 3. Gaps in Abilities between Undergraduate Education Majors and Engineering Majors

Education (z)

Engineering (z)

Education-Engineering Gap measured in z













(Measured in terms of std. deviations (z); Extracted from Figure 1)

TEACHING FUTURE INNOVATORS especially if parental mentoring and support is lacking 2. Student interest in technological innovation may be dulled with time 3. Not being understood by teachers, potential innovatorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; respect for education may be compromised and student de-motivation may set in 4. Future scientists and innovators may become problem students The Jack Dorseys and Debbie Sterlings of the future need a parent and/or teacher to fuel their interest in science, engineering, and technological innovation. In homes where there is no parent with an engineering or science background to nurture a future innovator, schools must play a vital role in nurturing future innovators from an early age. For the benefit of such students, schools may strive for student contact with teachers equipped with degrees from colleges of engineering. NEXT STEPS Responding to the Lack of Teacher Preparedness The foregoing is ample evidence that we need to make policy-level changes to K-12 education in the U.S. to appreciate and improve spatial skills in future innovators among our youth. We suggest the following: 1. Investigation of how the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (36) would address the needs of YIITM 2. The integration of engineering/spatial skills with math and science in K-12 school STEM curricula as found in the NGSS (also see (37)) 3. Teacher preparation for accomplishing the said integration in Item 2 above 4. Training of teachers to recognize spatial skills in their students as well as training them to develop their own spatial skills 5. The availability of a double major in engineering and education in universities to prepare engineers to work with future teachers in colleges of education 6. The availability of a masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in teaching for engineering graduates


7. Installation of Processes, Practices, and Policies (PPP) to enable selected or interested teachers to work with students endowed with high spatial skills 8. PPP to develop spatial skills in all school children from an early age 9. The development and distribution of training materials for teachers on spatial skills 10. Facilities and resources in schools for teaching spatial skills and applied spatial skills 11. A curriculum and program for inner-city children in schools where science proficiency is non-existent (see Philadelphia example above) Directions for Future Research Because the findings of Wai et al. (34) are central to our study, we recommend the following investigations to solidify our interpretations of their findings concerning future innovators. Particularly, we would like to recommended empirical tests of our implied hypotheses: 1. Hypothesis 1: Teachers with low spatial skills cannot or would not understand the aspirations, motivation, and behavior of a child with high spatial skills 2. Hypothesis 2: Teachers with low spatial skills can benefit from more science and math content courses but may not serve the purpose of understanding and motivating YIITM students high on spatial skills 3. Hypothesis 3: Teachers with low spatial skills may find it a challenge to develop spatial skills in students 4. Hypothesis 4: Toys such as GoldieBlox have a lasting effect on the spatial skills of girls and their attraction to higher education in science and engineering We also propose a study to investigate the features of the various programs in U.S. schools in grades K-12 that are more effective in meeting the needs of YIITM. Further, we propose another study to investigate how teachers with low spatial skills could assist and develop the skills and talents of students with high spatial skills.



CONCLUSIONS While we may draw many conclusions from the foregoing, our primary conclusion addresses the spatial skills of teachers or the lack of them. Our starting premise is derived from two sets of databased evidence: 1) the low performance scores of U.S. school students in all things science when compared to students in OECD nations and 2) the significant difference in spatial skills between graduates of colleges of engineering and education. While graduates from U.S. colleges of education provide valuable education to our students, it must be a challenge for them to adequately serve the needs of students endowed with extraordinary spatial skills and strong potential to be future innovators. We need to train existing teachers as well as prepare new teachers who are strong in spatial skills so that they may serve and mentor students endowed with high levels of spatial skills. We must also conduct empirical studies to understand how we may prepare interested teachers, even those with low spatial skills, to meet the needs of students with high spatial skills and YIITM, if that is possible. Schools must keep children who are endowed with high spatial skillsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;who could be potential future scientists and innovatorsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;interested and engaged in programs that develop and strengthen spatial skills very early in their lives while attending elementary and middle schools. If we neglect such studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; interests at an early age, we risk losing them from the future pool of innovators. We need to debate as well as research whether popular college-entrance tests, such as the SAT and ACT, ought to include a spatial skills component. In the meantime, how do we compensate for the lack of a spatial skills component in these popular tests? How should we address the needs of the spatially skilled children left behind by these tests? We also need programs and curricula for all students regardless of their native spatial skills to enhance their spatial skills. Such programs could enhance the pool of students entering science and engineering programs. We need to attract a cadre of engineering college graduates to teach in K-12 schools to be role models for students endowed with high spatial skills. Such

teachers could be instrumental in designing and offering programs to keep spatially skilled students challenged and on a track to seek higher education in science and engineering. Today, engineers are primarily employed in the private sector and government; we need policies that would attract some of them to the teaching profession at all levels. Compensation for engineers in industry and the government might be far better than the compensation in school districts, but this obstacle can be remedied if our commitment to educating future innovators is sufficiently strong. The National Science Foundation could set aside funds to investigate some of the suggestions and conclusions in this paper. We need facilities and resources in schools to enhance spatial skills in all students with emphasis on students with higher levels of spatial skills at all age levels in schools. This may be the critical missing link in preventing future innovators from losing interest in all things science, engineering, and technology. We need facilities and resources for STEM labs to stimulate our innovators-in-the-making from elementary schools onwards. At these labs, interested students could design solutions, conduct experiments, and learn to make proof-of-concept prototypes under the guidance of an engineer. These labs may be part of extracurricular opportunities at the school or could be integrated in the curriculum for interested students as an elective. The investment needed for one such lab and at least one engineer per school would be far less than sports facilities and staffing for football or basketball programs that most schools boast today. Our public schools would not let a football or basketball talent in the student body go to waste; we cannot say that today about science/engineering talent in the student body. We need to start with the teachers who are strong in the spatial skills that engineers possess; they could serve as a magnet to attract and coach future innovators who may be currently lost, drifting, or ignored in our schools. They need at least as much attention as athletes. In creating a sound educational infrastructure for finding and teaching YIITM, we have a long way to go, but we have to start somewhere. In this paper, we have offered hypotheses for pioneering empirical research

TEACHING FUTURE INNOVATORS to confirm the conclusions based on the evidence presented here and a number of policy recommendations emerging from the evidence and conclusions in the paper. Finally, identifying, developing, and rewarding students who think spatially would increase the availability of students and graduates for science/engineering entrepreneurship (38) and STEM-related careers.

8. 9.









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Hurd PD. Science literacy: its meaning for American schools. Educ Leadership. 16:13-16; 1958. [NAEP] National Assessment of Education Progress (US). 2011 science: the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s report card. [accessed 2015 Jun 14]. [NCES] National Center for Education Statistics (US). State-level science results. [2012 Apr 26; 2015 Jun 14]. GreatSchools. Oakland (CA): GreatSchools; 1998-2016 [accessed 2015 Jun 14]. http://www. GreatSchools: King Martin Luther High School. Oakland (CA): GreatSchools; 1998-2016 [accessed 2015 Jun 14]. http://www.greatschools. org/pennsylvania/philadelphia/2157-King-Martin-Luther-High- School/quality/#Ratings. Partnership for a New American Economy. Patent pending: how immigrants are reinventing the American economy. New York (NY): Partnership for a New American Economy; 2012 [accessed 2015 Aug 14]. http:// www. renew patent-pending-how-immigrants-are-reinventing-the-american-economy-2/. Maltese AV, Tai RH. Eyeballs in the fridge: sources of early interest in science. Int J Sci Educ. 32(5):669-685; 2010. Savage A. How to be a GEEK DAD. WIRED Magazine. Jun 2012;126 McGirt E. Most innovative companies of 2012. Fast Company. [accessed 2015 Jun 14]. http:// Orsini L. How an engineering toy for girls went from Kickstarter to bestseller. Readwrite. [2013 Jul 12; 2015 Jun 14]. http://readwrite. com/2013/07/12/how-an-engineering-toy-forgirls-went-from-kickstarter-to-bestseller. Said C. GoldieBlox Super Bowl ad strives to entice girls to engineering. SFGate. [2014 Feb 3; 2015 Jun 14]. article/GoldieBlox-Super-Bowl-ad-strives-toentice-girls-5194465.php.



19. Owens D. Creative people must be stopped. San Francisco (CA): Jossey-Bass; 2012. 20. Lohman DF. Spatial ability. In: Sternberg RJ, editor. Encyclopedia of intelligence. Vol. 2. New York (NY): Macmillan; 1994. p. 1000–1007. 21. Andersen L. Visual–spatial ability: important in STEM, ignored in gifted education. Roeper Rev. 36(2):114-121; 2014. 22. Ganesh B, Wilhelm J, Sherrod S. The development of a tool for assessment of geometric spatial visualization concepts. Sch Sci Math. 109:461472; 2009. 23. Linn M, Petersen A. Emergence and characterization of sex differences in spatial ability: a meta-analysis. Child Dev. 56(6):1479-1498; 1985. 24. [NCTM] National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM; 2000. 25. Battista M. Spatial visualization and gender differences in high school geometry. J Res Math Educ. 21(1):47-60; 1990. 26. Rigney J, Lutz K. Effect of graphic analogies of concepts in chemistry on learning and attitude. J Educ Psych. 68:305-31; 1976. http://www. php. 27. Visual spatial skills. AWE research overview suite. [2005 Mar 22; 2015 Jun14]. 28. Committee on the Support for Thinking Spatially: The Incorporation of Geographic Information Science Across the K-12 Curriculum, Committee on Geography, National Research Council. Learning to think spatially: GIS as a support system in the K-12 curriculum. Washington (DC): The National Academies Press; 2006 [accessed 2015 Jun 14]. chapter/1.

29. Watson JD, Crick FH. Molecular structure of nucleic acids. Nature. 171(4356):737-738; 1953. 30. Shepard R. The imagination of the scientist. In: Egan K, Nadaner D, editors. Imagination and education. New York (NY): Teachers College Press; 1988. p. 153-185. 31. Trickett SB, Trafton JG. “What if…”: the use of conceptual simulations in scientific reasoning. Cognitive Sci. 31(5):843-875; 2007. 32. Park G, Lubenski D, Benbow CP. Recognizing spatial intelligence. Sci Am. [2010 Nov 2; 2015 Jun 14]. article/recognizing-spatial-intel/. 33. Austin JT, Hanisch KA. Occupational attainment as a function of abilities and interests: a longitudinal analysis using project TALENT data. J Appl Psychol. 75(1):77; 1990. 34. Wai J, Lubinski D, Benbow CP. Spatial ability for STEM domains: aligning over 50 years of cumulative psychological knowledge solidifies its importance. J Educ Psychol. 101(4):817-835; 2009. 35. Lubinski D. Spatial ability and STEM: a sleeping giant for talent identification and development. Pers Individ Dif. 49:344–351; 2010. [accessed 2015 Jun 14]. paid.2010.03.022. 36. NGSS Lead States. Next generation science standards: for states, by states. Washington (DC): National Academies Press; 2013. 37. Wilkerson-Jerde MH, Gravel BE, Macrander CA. Exploring shifts in middle school learners’ modeling activity while generating drawings, animations, and computational simulations of molecular diffusion. J Sci Educ Technol. 24(23):396-415; 2014. 38. Swamidass P. Engineering entrepreneurship from idea to business plan. New York (NY): Cambridge University Press; 2016.

Technology and Innovation, Vol. 18, p. 343, 2017 Printed in the USA. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 National Academy of Inventors.

ISSN 1949-8241 • E-ISSN 1949-825X

T&I BOOK REVIEW Dean F. Martin Department of Chemistry, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

commercialization of a bright idea, buttressed by a patent position whose cost must be covered somehow. Accordingly, it behooves a faculty member to have good understanding of what is involved in establishing a “start-up company” that will bring in the support money, and, at this point, the erstwhile academic, inventor, and CEO would be wise to be well informed at all stages. Until recently, this was rarely taught in graduate school, either in courses or in experiences leading to an advanced degree. Further, though, this professor-inventor, as well as patentee-CEO, would be well advised to read this book to gain a solid background in the steps to forming a start-up, both successful ones and failures. The authors provide lucid explanations, define types of university start-ups (where do you the reader fit in?), and illustrate key step-by-step procedures with helpful tables (Milestones vs. Value-creating Milestones) and creative, well-organized figures. The writing is focused on the experiences of a university inventor, and thus on their perspective, with one section entitled “The University–Friend or Foe.” However, some pages at the end are directed to university administrators, their roles, and their constraints. The bottom line is that this is a well-written and well-organized book produced by articulate, experienced authors for the benefit of would-be entrepreneurs.

Research to Revenue: A Practical Guide to University Start-ups Don Rose and Cam Patterson UNC Press, 2016 (352 pp) $29.95 (ISBN: 978-1-4696-2526-3) Many academic institutions are now concerned with technology transfer, commonly referred to as tech transfer, the conversion of academic research into commercial products, as D. Malakoff noted in Science in 2013 (339:750-753). This is hardly a new occurrence, as chemists will remember G. Frederick Smith (a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), who provided products, such as perchlorate salts, perchloric acid, and other materials, that were sold by his brothers during the Great Depression (as G. F. Smith Chemical Co., later GFS Company). But the current situation arises in no small part because “state universities” may be now drifting into “suino” status (state universities in name only), spurred by state legislatures’ curtailment of the financial support they supply to state universities coupled with increasing demands on increasingly diminished federal funding. STEM Faculty seeking tenure are thus faced with the dilemma: How do they demonstrate their notable creativity without the supporting documentation of grants, preferably from a prestigious funding agency? Tech transfer has been an important part of the solution to this problem. To be successful, however, tech transfer requires a solid bedrock of patents, and the costs must come from somewhere. Accordingly, the enthusiastic faculty member who takes this route must face the need to support the patent process, and one solution is

Don Rose is director of Carolina Kickstart and adjunct lecturer at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Cam Patterson is senior vice president and CEO at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.


Accepted November 30, 2016. Corresponding Author: Dean F. Martin, University of South Florida, Department of Chemistry, 4202 East Fowler Avenue CHE205, Tampa, FL 33620, USA. Tel: +1 (813) 974-2374; Email:



Aims and Scope The journal Technology and Innovation, Journal of the National Academy of Inventors (T&I) is a forum for presentation of information encompassing essentially the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation. Owing to the broad nature of the applied sciences, authors should be guided by the interest of the readers who are likely to be knowledgeable non-specialist scholars. Contributions containing the following information will be considered for publication: • Description of advances in transformative technology and translational science • Critical assessments of a segment of science, engi neering, medicine, or other technologies • Economics of a technology, governmental and policy action, and innovation as related to intellectual prop erty • Environmental (including human health) impact of various technologies • Articles on historical, societal, ethical, and related aspects of science,engineering, medicine, or technol ogy, provided they are written for the scientific com munity and in a style compatible with a scientific journal • Articles should have a discussion on the process of innovation and invention Because T&I serves a multidisciplinary audience, authors are urged to avoid writing for specialists. In particular, they are discouraged from using expressions that are understandable only to a select audience of specialists. For example, mathematical expressions should be explained in words to assure their appreciation by nonmathematicians. All contributions will be subjected to peer review and will be evaluated on the basis of their general usefulness for the readers, including scientific quality, originality, and compliance with the style and format of the journal. The following categories of contributions will be considered for publication: Articles: Most articles will be review format with no minimum or maximum length. The journal subscribes to the concept that the length of an article is determined by its content. However, a preference will be given for articles that are between 7 and 15 published pages. Commentaries and Discussions: (Letters to the editor, editorials, and similar contributions also fall into this category.) These are subjected to peer review and are required to follow T&I format and style and must be consistent with the requirements of a scholarly journal. The discussion of contested areas of science where a consensus is lacking is included in this category. Commentaries are shorter than regular manuscripts and must contain information that is likely to invoke scientific discussion with the objective of

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hours of receipt. Corrections at this stage should be limited to printer’s errors and minor changes. No major changes or rewrites are allowed. Open Access: To help authors reach maximum exposure for manuscripts published in Technology and Innovation, T&I utilizes Open Access publishing. Fees are billed when a manuscript is accepted for publication. Open Access Fee Rates Standard Single Submission: ...................................$1,000 NAI Fellow Contributed Single Submission: ...........$800 If you are interested in publishing with T&I but believe you will be unable to meet the Open Access fees, please contact T&I at or (813) 974-1347. Copyright: If data from any source other than the authors is used in tables or figures, it is the responsibility of the authors to obtain permission to reproduce such material. Editorial staff may ask authors to provide proof that permission has been granted from the original publisher and indicate the source when signing our copyright forms. For any questions relating to the formatting or submitting of manuscripts, please contact T&I at tijournal@ or (813) 974-1347.

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THE INVENTION GENDER GAP Guest Editor: Florence Haseltine Technology and Innovation (T&I) is currently soliciting manuscripts for a special issue on the gender gap in the invention arena. Statistics show that women are named as inventors on fewer than one in five patents despite gains in the number of women entering STEM fields, and addressing this disparity will be critical to remaining competitive in the global innovation sphere. This special issue builds on earlier work on the invention gender gap published in T&I by our guest editor Florence Haseltine (T&I 18.4) and Philippa Olsen (T&I 17.4). We seek articles and reviews addressing topics associated with gender-based differences in representation and outcomes for inventors. Relevant topics include but are not limited to: • • • • • • •

The differential representation of men and women as inventors Differences in outcomes for male vs. female inventors Contributing factors and hypotheses related to the gender gap in invention— systemic, environmental, etc. Analyses of relevant data and statistics Proposals and solutions to close the gender gap in invention Effects of the persistence of the gender gap in invention on inventors and society at large Roles of universities, government agencies, and private enterprise in addressing the gender gap

Initial manuscripts should be submitted by September 1, 2017. Instructions for authors can be found at: T&I is published by the National Academy of Inventors and presents information encompassing the entire field of applied sciences, with a focus on transformative technology and academic innovation, and welcomes manuscripts that meet the general criteria of significance and scientific excellence. We publish original articles in basic and applied research, critical reviews, surveys, opinions, commentaries, essays, and patent and book reviews of interest to our readers. If you have questions or would like to submit a manuscript, please contact assistant editor of T&I, Kimberly Macuare, at

MICHAEL BASS, University of Central Florida ISSA BATARSEH, University of Central Florida RAYMOND J. BERGERON, University of Florida SHEKHAR BHANSALI, Florida International University ROBERT H. BYRNE, University of South Florida SELIM A. CHACOUR, University of South Florida WILLIAM J. CLANCEY, Institute for Human & Machine Cognition ROY CURTISS III, University of Florida WILLIAM S. DALTON, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute PETER J. DELFYETT, University of Central Florida DONN M. DENNIS, University of Florida DAVID M. EDDY, University of South Florida GREGG B. FIELDS, Florida Atlantic University KENNETH M. FORD, Institute for Human & Machine Cognition MICHAEL W. FOUNTAIN, University of South Florida RICHARD D. GITLIN, University of South Florida LEONID B. GLEBOV, University of Central Florida D. YOGI GOSWAMI, University of South Florida CLIFFORD M. GROSS, University of South Florida BARBARA C. HANSEN, University of South Florida RICHARD A. HOUGHTEN, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies LONNIE O. INGRAM, University of Florida S. SITHARAMA IYENGAR, Florida International University RICHARD JOVE, Nova Southeastern University SAKHRAT KHIZROEV, Florida Internatitonal University DAVID C. LARBALESTIER, Florida State University C. DOUGLAS LETSON, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute GUIFANG LI, University of Central Florida STEPHEN B. LIGGETT, University of South Florida ALAN F. LIST, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute DEAN F. MARTIN, University of South Florida THOMAS O. MENSAH, Florida State University SHYAM MOHAPATRA, University of South Florida BRIJ M. MOUDGIL, University of Florida

INNOVATION CAN BE DIFFICULT TO CREATE and more difficult to sustain. For the past 6 years, the National Academy of Inventors has sustained and grown as an organization that recognizes and encourages invention.

DAVID P. NORTON, University of Florida VICTOR L. POIRIER, University of South Florida ANN PROGULSKE-FOX, University of Florida ALAIN T. RAPPAPORT, Institute for Human & Machine Cognition PAUL R. SANBERG, University of South Florida W. GREGORY SAWYER, University of Florida ANDREW V. SCHALLY, University of Miami SUDIPTA SEAL, University of Central Florida

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NAI FOR 6 YEARS OF GROWTH and to these Florida inventors honored to be called NAI Fellows.

SAID M. SEBTI, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute MARWAN A. SIMAAN, University of Central Florida FRANKY SO, University of Florida M. J. SOILEAU, University of Central Florida NAN-YAO SU, University of Florida HERBERT WEISSBACH, Florida Atlantic University

proud to partner with the

SHIN-TSON WU, University of Central Florida JAMES J. WYNNE, University of South Florida JANET K. YAMAMOTO, University of Florida JIANPING (JIM) P. ZHENG, Florida State University

Technology and Innovation Volume 18, Number 4  
Technology and Innovation Volume 18, Number 4