Posted at 1:40 PM
Guest blog post by Manjula Sandirigama, Professor at the University of Perideniya in Sri Lanka
As a professor of engineering, I see a big gap between university research and industry. One way to bridge this gap is to educate researchers about the importance of intellectual property (IP) in moving their ideas to industry.
About three years ago, I had a student who developed an app for deterring break-ins by text message. It was a fantastic idea. However, the technology never went to market. The simple reason for this failure was that there was no mechanism for the student to sell his idea to industry.
Recently, my team and I made a visit to the United States and thanks to the Commerce Department’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) and the U.S. State Department, we received the training needed that brought together academics, the private sector and government to focus on how to improve the innovation and commercialization environment in Sri Lanka. As part of our training, we also received a great IP primer from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that was both informative and educative. My team members and I gained a significant amount of knowledge about intellectual property and technology transfer at universities.
Following our visit to the U.S. Department of Commerce, we traveled to Princeton University and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). During our visit to Princeton’s tech transfer office, my team and I learned how IP-based research happens in practice. We visited a nearby incubation center that was a great example of how government can fuel research and development by providing infrastructure facilities to startups. CMU also provided us a great example of how research to commercialization mechanisms work smoothly among stakeholders.
It was a big boost to me and my fellow participants to learn the art and science of commercializing innovation, or tech transfer, to strengthen Sri Lanka's economy and fuel IP-based research and development. This problem highlights the need for academics, students and industry to work together to bring new technology to market. After our visit, I am optimistic that my team and I now have the necessary tools to help create a healthy innovation environment in Sri Lanka.