Bayh Remembered For Influencing Innovation

Posted: Updated:
(photo courtesy of our partners at WIBC) (photo courtesy of our partners at WIBC)

Former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh is being remembered for many accomplishments following his passing earlier this month, including his contribution to innovation throughout the country. The three-term senator is perhaps best known for authoring the federal Title IX law and drafting the 25th and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. However, another law co-authored by Bayh is considered to be instrumental to technology transfer activities in the U.S. 

The Bayh-Dole Act, which was enacted in 1980, allowed universities to systematically retain title to inventions that were made with federal funds. Teri Willey, executive director and fund manager for the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, says the legislation made it easier for inventions to be commercialized.

"Prior to the Bayh-Dole Act, that was possible, but you basically had to petition for title of the invention made by one of your faculty members on a case-by-case basis and this act allowed universities to, as long as they met certain criteria, retain or acquire that title so that they could deal directly with industry and entrepreneurs to commercialize the ideas and bring them forward to the public. Before that, you had to go through the central government in order to get a license if you thought the idea could be the basis of a new product or company."

Because the process was so labor intensive, Willey says few universities were doing it. Stephen Susalka, chief executive officer of Illinois-based nonprofit AUTM (formerly known as the Association of University Technology Managers), wrote an article following Bayh's passing and said the Bayh-Dole Act "also set the stage for the explosion in growth of start-up company formation."

Willey says the universities that were participating in the old process got together with policymakers to try and change the way intellectual property is awarded.

"After this decentralization allowing the rights to be exercised closer to where the inventors were, the number of patents filed, the number of licenses granted just increased steadily and significantly and there was tremendous economic impact," said Willey. "In fact, the Bayh-Dole Act is credited as being a foundation of the biotech industry in the 1990s."

Willey adds the bipartisan nature of the Bayh-Dole Act is also a key component of its passing. 

Willey says the legislation made it easier for inventions to be commercialized.
  • Perspectives

    • Creating the Work Spaces that Draw Talent to Indianapolis

      The future economy will be driven by data, powered by robotics and heavily invested in the building blocks of nature – biotech and genetic engineering. That’s true of the economy nationwide, and it’s especially true here in Indianapolis, where dominant pharmaceutical and biotech companies are putting us at the cutting edge of the science-based economy. It all sounds larger than life. But the facilities that will house these industries will always be...



Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • The Honda Greensburg plant opened in 2008.

      Honda to Invest $4M, Add Jobs at Greensburg Plant

      The American Honda Motor Co. continues to invest in its Greensburg, Indiana plant as it has announced the factory will be producing the company’s first electrified sport utility vehicle in the U.S. The company says it will invest more than $4 million and add 34 new jobs in the plant to support production of the CR-V Hybrid.  

    • (photo courtesy of The Times of Northwest Indiana)

      Valpo Mansion May Fall to Wrecking Ball

      A one-time mansion that once hosted dignitaries and politicians while they visited Valparaiso appears to be facing demolition, following years of decline and disrepair.  The stately mansion, known locally as the Brown home, maybe knocked down and replaced with condominiums, according to our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana. 

    • NineStar's Expanded Offerings Boost Hancock County

      Greenfield-based NineStar Connect has launched several expansion plans for its water and sewer facilities in Hancock County. The utility says its initiatives have boosted the local economy and attracted businesses and developers to the area. 

    • Indiana's medical device industry is widely known as one of the strongest in the world.

      Zimmer Biomet Device Receives FDA Clearance

      The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has awarded clearance to Warsaw-based Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc. (NYSE: ZBH) for a meniscal repair device. The medical device manufacturer says the device, known as JuggerStitch, will be available in the U.S. market.

    • Socio received the Top-Rated Overall Culture award. (Provided Photo/Socio)

      Inaugural Tech Culture Award Winners Unveiled

      Indianapolis-based Powderkeg has unveiled the winners of the inaugural Indiana Breakout Tech Culture Awards. Eleven Hoosier tech companies received the honors based on survey rankings from the 2019 Tech Census, which focused specifically on tech cultures. Nearly 270 tech companies were nominated and the winners were selected from a group of 50 finalists. More than 1,300 individuals responded to the survey, which allowed employees to rate their companies and employers on...