Leading Innovation: Top Inventors From Around The World Gather For The National Academy Of Inventors Conference

TAMPA, Fla., March 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Nearly 200 renowned inventors and innovators from more than 60 universities, research institutes and governmental agencies worldwide gathered recently for the second annual meeting of the National Academy of Inventors, held at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa.

A highlight of the event was the induction by Margaret Focarino , U.S. Commissioner for Patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), of the NAI Charter Fellows—101 top scientists and innovation leaders from 56 research universities and non-profit research institutes, who collectively hold over 3,200 patents.  Almost half of the Fellows were in attendance to be inducted and receive a trophy, rosette pin and certificate.

Focarino held up a plaque engraved with the names and institutions of the fellows and described how the plaque will hang at the USPTO and each subsequent year a plaque listing the name and institution of each NAI Fellow will be on display at the USPTO federal building in Alexandria, Virginia.

The NAI Charter Fellows and their institutions were also recognized in the Congressional Record of the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 28, 2013, in an Extension of Remarks by Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis.

Elizabeth Dougherty , USPTO director of Inventor Education, Outreach & Recognition, hailed the NAI as an organization that can”help to shape new policies, ones that offer new opportunities for students but also respect the longstanding and important research and development endeavors that universities support and rightfully retain control over.”

“Universities that encourage intellectual property by opening the doors immediately to inventorship will be the ones that attract the greatest talent,” she said.

The meeting featured presentations by experts in science, technology, invention and commercialization, who shared research and insights on topics ranging from new disruptive technologies such as wireless technology used in medical applications and the process of moving technology from the lab to the market, to the Affordable Care Act and its potential impact on drug development and “tech transfer from Saturn to your cell phone.”

Robert Langer , the acclaimed MIT chemical engineer who has over 800 patents and is one of only three Americans to have won both the United States National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, challenged an audience that included students and seasoned inventors to “find a way that works” in bringing their inventions to market, regardless of skeptics.

In a keynote address that preceded the NAI Fellows induction, Focarino described how the USPTO has undergone “a renaissance in the past few years” with the passage and implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA), which aligns the U.S. patent system with the rest of the world.

The goal of the AIA, said Focarino, is for “any inventor, particularly those here in the U.S., to be able to protect his or her invention throughout the world.”  She discussed how the USPTO is working to prevent the theft of intellectual property and subsequent reverse engineering of American technology that is then patented and sold in other parts of the world.

“Would Thomas Edison Receive Tenure?”

A lively forum on changing the academic culture of tenure and promotion featured five top university leaders debating the evolution taking place in the academic world around recognizing the increasing importance of patenting and commercializing university research.

The panel included Mory Gharib , vice provost for Research at California Institute of Technology, Eric Kaler , president of theUniversity of Minnesota, Richard Marchase , vice president for Research and former interim president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Timothy Sands , provost of Purdue University.

The fifth member of the panel, Patrick Harker , president of the University of Delaware, said that while tenure “is about letting faculty speak the truth,” accountability is crucial. “Faculty have to do important stuff,” he said. In making the decision to award tenure, universities should focus on impact, and ask: “Are you working on important things, and do they make a difference?”

“The rapid growth of the NAI is a direct reflection of how critical academic invention has become,” said NAI president Paul Sanberg , who is also USF’s senior vice president for Research & Innovation.  “Commercializing patents, spinning off new companies, building products, and creating high paying jobs have to become as much a part of a university’s mission as educating a high tech workforce for its state and the nation.”

“Investments in research pay off,” said USF President Judy Genshaft . “Inventors are building a resilient economy for the next century.”

About the National Academy of Inventors

The National Academy of Inventors is a 501(c)3 non-profit member organization comprised of more than 60 U.S. and international universities and non-profit research institutes, with over 2,000 individual academic inventor members, and growing rapidly. It 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 inventions of its members to benefit society. The NAI offices are located in the University of South Florida Research Park of Tampa Bay.  The NAI edits the multidisciplinary journal, Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors, published by Cognizant Communication Corporation (NY).www.academyofinventors.org

Media contact: Judy Lowry , jhlowry@usf.edu

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