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GAO Audit finds VA tech transfer program in need of repairs

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 9th, 2018

The Department of Veterans Affairs needs to make some key changes to improve its technology transfer program and get more of its innovations into commercial use, a new Government Accountability Office report found. (The full report can be downloaded here.)

The agency spends $1.9 billion a year on research and has a history of important innovations, including the pacemaker and early prototypes of the CAT scan. And while it does have a TTO dedicated to moving technologies into the marketplace, processes don’t always run smoothly. For example, GAO found that while the VA’s 3,000 researchers are technically required to disclose their inventions to the agency, they often don’t.

A primary reason for this is lack of awareness. “VA established an online training program in 2017 covering the invention disclosure process, but the training is not mandatory,” the GAO report reads. “VA provided us with a report from October 2017 indicating that out of over 3,000 eligible researchers, 130 (4%) had taken the training.”

In addition, many VA researchers hold joint positions at universities, and this muddies the reporting process. These researchers may disclose their inventions to the university assuming that the university will, in turn, disclose to the VA. But this doesn’t always happen.

These two issues contribute to “lost technology transfer opportunities and royalties for VA,” the GAO report states. To fix the problem, the report recommends that the VA “make training about invention disclosure mandatory,” while also creating a standard method of reporting for all researchers, regardless of any university affiliation. The VA concurred with both recommendations.

Source: FedScoop

Invention Disclosure Management: Proven Strategies for Boosting Quantity and Assessing Quality

Technology Transfer Tactics’ Distance Learning Division has created a collection of three distance learning programs that target key disclosure management challenges, including faculty outreach and engagement, effective triage, and standardizing post-disclosure activity and communication. For details, CLICK HERE.

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