Purdue Leaders to Testify Before Congress

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Two Purdue University experts are set to testify before Congressional subcommittees. Office of Technology and Commercialization Director Libby Hart-Wells and agricultural economist Chris Hurt will speak to the panels Wednesday afternoon. July 23, 2013

News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The director of the Purdue Office of Technology and Commercialization (OTC) on Wednesday (July 24) will testify before a congressional panel examining ways to improve technology transfer at universities, research institutes and national laboratories.

Elizabeth "Libby" Hart-Wells, assistant vice president for research and associate director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue, will highlight innovative practices that Purdue has instituted for leveraging its federally funded research projects.

The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Research & Technology will take testimony from 2-4 p.m. Scheduled to testify are Brian R. Wamhoff, vice president of research & development and co-founder of HemoShear LLC; Erik Lium, assistant vice chancellor of the Office of Innovation, Technology & Alliances at the University of California, San Francisco; and Hart-Wells.

Members of the subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives are considering amendments to the existing Transfer of Federally Funded Research and Technology Act of 2013. The public hearing is in the 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

"Universities engage in fundamental research to grow our knowledge base, to advance understanding, and to encourage free thinking in our next generations," Hart-Wells said.

"Inherent to exploration of uncharted areas of inquiry is discovery. Discovery can and should lead to delivery. Gaps in the path that connects discovery to delivery exist, however.

"In my reading of its current draft, it is the filling of this gap that is, provincially defined, the subject of the proposed legislation."

Recent steps by Purdue to advance its technology transfer process have included:

-Incentives for student inventors: Purdue's new intellectual property policy will grant students full property rights to inventions developed through a course with resources broadly available for the course.

-Fast track for new inventors: The Purdue Research Foundation and the OTC offer first-time Purdue inventors a fast track to commercialization including an express startup license that provides a quicker and more transparent licensing for Purdue's inventive entrepreneurs.

-New hub offers services to enhance commercialization: The Purdue Foundry plans to double Purdue's successful technology-based startups over the next two years by offering service ranging from help with grant writing to connecting with alumni.

In her role at Purdue, Hart-Wells manages the commercialization of Purdue's intellectual property assets, which includes evaluating innovations, developing commercialization strategies and drafting commercialization agreements.

In 2012, the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization reported 356 invention disclosures, 77 commercialization licenses and deals, acquired 54 issued U.S. patents and reported the creation of five startups from Purdue discoveries. For information about the Purdue innovations, contact Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, casequin@prf.org.

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, through its sponsored initiatives and partnerships - including the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Technology Realization Program, Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and business plan competitions - aims to stimulate entrepreneurship at Purdue and serves as a state, regional and national resource.

Source: Purdue University

July 23, 2013

News Release

West Lafayette, Ind. -- Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt will testify Wednesday (July 24) in Washington before a congressional panel considering whether law requiring production of biofuels should be altered to meet changing conditions.

Hurt will explain how the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 has been a boon to crop producers, such as corn growers, but also has helped to drive prices for animal feed and food for people higher by requiring a significant portion of the crops go to the production of ethanol.

"This law has had some pretty large impacts on the demand for grains," Hurt said. "In this case, it was a very rapid increase in demand mandated by law."

Hurt will give his testimony to a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is assessing the effectiveness of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The public hearing of the Energy and Power Subcommittee will be at 1:30 p.m. in Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The subcommittee also is hearing testimony from representatives of various industries both supporting and opposing the law.

The Renewable Fuel Standard, a 2005 provision of the Energy Policy Act, sets targets and timetables for certain biofuels to be added to the nation's transportation fuel supply. It was expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act two years later, setting requirements that 16.55 billion gallons of biofuels be produced in 2013 and 36 billion by 2022. Hurt estimates that 38 percent of the 2013 corn crop will go toward ethanol production.

To meet the federally mandated production levels, U.S. agriculture put more acreage into growing corn, and the biofuels industry built the necessary production plants to process it into ethanol, he said.

"That was not done without some costs," Hurt said. Shifting large amounts of acreage into corn at a time between 2005 and 2010 when the Chinese were also drastically increasing their purchases of soybeans meant less acreage for crops other than corn or beans.

"If the Congress saw what was developing with the Chinese back then, it might not have ramped up the Renewable Fuel Standard requirements so rapidly," he said.

Among the congressional subcommittee's considerations must be how agriculture will meet mandated production levels of ethanol in view of the slow pace in the development of cellulosic biofuels, such as those from miscanthus or crop and forest residue, Hurt said. He noted that a requirement for 1 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels to be produced this year has been lowered to only 14 million gallons, in line with actual production. Still, a requirement of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2022 remains in the RFS mandate.

"That is not likely to happen," Hurt said.

"The Renewable Fuel Standard is one of the most important laws that has been driving U.S. agriculture. Thus, any changes to that law could have large impacts on the future of the sector."

Source: Purdue University