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Letter to Prospective Sponsors of Research

Posted on Dec 19, 2011

Dear Prospective Industrial Sponsor:

I wanted to let you know that we are making a significant change to our IP policies at Penn State – we will no longer insist on owning the Intellectual Property that issues from industry sponsored research.

This is a significant change. In short we consider the net present value of the interactions and relationships that our faculty and students have with industrial professionals to be real and therefore greater than the apparent future value of the proceeds from such IP. In fields from engineering to business, faculty who have contact with industrial professionals and who work on “real world” problems as well as “academic” problems are even more effective teachers and mentors and that is our core “business”.

Furthermore, today the US desperately needs innovation and economic lift. At this point in our nation’s history in contrast to earlier times, research universities are expected to be the engines of innovation. Our goal then is to flatten any and all barriers or impediments to innovation and that includes our own past stance on intellectual property.  

This is not something that we have decided to do willy-nilly, but rather this comes after more than a year of careful analysis and consultation with our stakeholders and colleagues. As one of the top universities in research expenditures each year ( $804 Million last year) we think that this decision will have impact and may induce others to follow in our path. Some will see this as a controversial decision but I am confident that it is the right thing to do.

If you or one of you other colleagues would like to discuss this further, I would be happy to have a conversation. I believe that this is a significant enough shift in policy at the university to let you know personally.



Henry C. Foley, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research
& Dean of the Graduate School
The Pennsylvania State University