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Fueling Innovation: The Bayh-Dole Act

Senator Bayh is the author the Bayh-Dole Act (1980), co-sponsored by his colleague Senator Bob Dole.  Bayh-Dole was a bipartisan initiative that The Economist has called "possibly the most inspired piece of legislation to be enacted in America over the past half-century."

Bayh-Dole enables universities and small businesses to gain ownership of federally funded inventions so they can be developed into new products, jobs, and businesses through partnerships with U.S. companies, thus benefiting the taxpaying public. It has energized the free-enterprise system, helping launch thousands of new high-tech companies; contributing hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product; creating hundreds of thousands of new, high-paying jobs; and aiding the development of dozens of new drugs and vaccines. The law is considered the international best practice for research-and-development partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Before the Act's passage, despite the investment of billions of dollars invested in public-sector research each year, resulting discoveries were taken away from inventing organizations by the federal government. Some 30,000 patents sat idle; not a single new drug had been developed while the government owned the invention. Bayh-Dole allowed our universities and federal laboratories to partner with American industry, not only unleashing the development of new inventions, but also spawning entirely new industries, such as biotechnology.

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