Image: Erica P. Johnson

The National Institutes of Health has launched a new tracking system to streamline the licensing of discoveries. Officials hope the new system will improve the technology transfer process, allowing promising biomedical discoveries to be commercialized and brought to the public benefit more quickly.

In October, the NIH activated TechTracS, a system to monitor technology transfers from intramural research programs. TechTracS uses computer database tools to help NIH officials keep up-to-date on their patenting and licensing activities. The NIH collected $46 million (US) in licensing revenue in fiscal 2001 from intramural and extramural research, an amount that pales in comparison with the whopping $17.9 billion it obligated in fiscal 2001. The system is designed to better manage those resources. "We added about 1,000 different business rules, things that a patent attorney might go through," says Gary Barbarash, special assistant to the director of NIH's Office of...

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