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Leveraging A Flexible Intellectual Property Policy To Bring Student Innovation To Market

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.852.1 - 13.852.12



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Paper Authors

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John Farris Grand Valley State University

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Hugh Jack Grand Valley State University Orcid 16x16

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Shabbir Choudhuri Grand Valley State University

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Christopher Pung Grand Valley State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Leveraging a Flexible Intellectual Property Policy to Bring Student Innovation to Market


An engineering school at a primarily undergraduate, public, regional university in the Midwest uses a liberal intellectual property policy in conjunction with hands-on design and build projects in multiple classes to enable students to reap the rewards of their product ideas. The university's intellectual property policy contains two interesting facets that pertain to student innovation. First, students own their ideas. If a student proposes an idea to work on in a course then the student owns the resulting intellectual property as long as the student does not use more resources than the typical project in the class. The other interesting part of the policy is the concept of the innovation committee. The innovation committee, consisting of faculty and administrators, reviews intellectual property submitted by faculty and students. Faculty are required to submit their patentable ideas but for students it is optional. If the committee decides the idea has commercial potential, then the student negotiates a financial agreement to move the product forward through the patent process to market. The innovation committee usually offers money to obtain a patent, create a more refined prototype or help in licensing the technology. In return the student inventors agree to pay the committee a percentage of profits or give the committee part ownership in the resulting company. Examples of several student projects that used the assistance of the innovation committee will be described in the paper.


Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is a public primarily-undergraduate regional comprehensive university serving over 26,000 students. The university was founded in 1960. Today the Mission of the school is “Educating students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies. The university contributes to the enrichment of society through excellent teaching, active scholarship, and public service”. To fulfill the pubic service aspect of the mission statement, the School of Engineering (SOE) was established in 1980 to supply local industry with engineers capable of assuming leadership roles. Since it founding the SOE has been able to expand and build two buildings with the financial support of local industry. In the past decade, the forces of globalization and international competition have challenged manufacturing companies of all sizes that have traditionally supplied much of the economic vitality to the region.

At the same time the growth and maturation of GVSU required the formulation of a formal intellectual property policy. A committee of faculty and administrators established the policy 20041. One of the guiding principles of the policy was the idea that the discoveries made at the university should pushed into the market to benefit the local economy. The salient points of the policy are summarized below.

1. The university may license or assign intellectual property to external entities for further development and commercialization in exchange for a return on resulting revenues. The university and creator (inventor) shall divide the return on resulting revenues using one of the two formulas as follows:

2. The University and the creator divide the gross revenue 70% to the university and 30% to the creator but the University assumes the expenses related to legal protection, marketing and commercialization and licensing and other transactional expenses related to the Intellectual property; or,

3. The university and the creator divide the net revenue 50% to the university and 50% to the creator but the university first recovers its expenses related to legal protection, marketing and commercialization and licensing and other transactional expenses related to the intellectual property.

Farris, J., & Jack, H., & Choudhuri, S., & Pung, C. (2008, June), Leveraging A Flexible Intellectual Property Policy To Bring Student Innovation To Market Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3352

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