USF Research News

University of South Florida joins national discussion on science and research policy

July 22, 2015

USF was one of the 10 universities discussing the future of research at the AAU and Science Coalition 'All Things Research 2015'

TAMPA, Fla. – Senior research officers from 10 top research universities, including the University of South Florida, met on July 15, 2015, for an on-the-record discussion with numerous representatives of national and regional media outlets. The discussion, entitled "All Things Research 2015," was hosted by the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Science Coalition at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Mike Waring, executive director of federal relations at the University of Michigan, moderated the roundtable discussion which focused on science and the national interest, economic development and the research university, and a concern many have that the United States is facing an "innovation deficit," caused by a decline in government funding for research and higher education, which could impact the nation's role as a world leader of invention and innovation.

The panel comprised representatives from top research universities, many of which are AAU members. The panelists included Paul R. Sanberg, senior vice president for research, innovation and economic development at USF; David O. Conover, vice president for research at Stony Brook University; Fred King, vice president for research at West Virginia University; Michael Pazzani, vice chancellor for research and economic development at the University of California, Riverside; Mark Redfern, vice provost for research at the University of Pittsburgh; Jay Walsh, vice president for research at Northwestern University; Gloria S. Waters, vice president for research and associate provost at Boston University; Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research at the Johns Hopkins University; David Wynes, vice president for research administration at Emory University; and Maria Zuber, vice president for research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All of the universities represented on the panel are member institutions of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

According to Sanberg, the University of South Florida, which was recently designated as an "Innovation and Economic Prosperity University" by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), has actively worked to move the research of its faculty from the laboratory to the marketplace, a process known as "technology transfer."

"We have worked hard to change the culture at USF to encourage technology transfer," said Sanberg, who has also served as an Invention Ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Lemelson Foundation. "As scientists, we have not traditionally been trained to be entrepreneurial. USF has become a highly inventive university, in part because we train our students and faculty and recognize and honor our inventors."

A global leader in patents, USF ranked 13th worldwide, 10th in the U.S. and first in Florida among universities receiving U.S. utility patents in 2014, according to the annual ranking published by the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the National Academy of Inventors. USF has ranked among the top 15 universities worldwide for patents for the past five years.

"With the National Academy of Inventors, we have pushed hard to have patents, licensing, commercialization and startups considered as part of the criteria for tenure and promotion and to be recognized as integral to the mission of a research university," said Sanberg, who is the founder and president of the National Academy of Inventors, and an active inventor holding 111 U.S. and foreign patents. "Research universities are economic engines for their regions and states, and this kind of innovation is a key component."

Asked how his university has leveraged federal funding for research and innovation, Sanberg offered two examples. "The U.S. Department of Commerce has an i6 challenge grant for starting up business incubators and the NSF has the I-Corps grants program for setting up as an I-Corps Site or with I-Corps Teams to teach faculty and students about commercialization," he said. "At USF, we've taken advantage of these opportunities and have really tried to push our faculty to look at their research, so that, if it is translatable to the marketplace, they'll have the tools to do it."

View the video of the entire panel discussion.

Media Contact: Judy Lowry, 813-974-3181, jhlowry@usf.edu