WASHINGTON—A proposal to use the commercial fruits of federally funded research to finance new projects may get a hearing this fall in Congress. Although its passage is unlikely, the idea is seen as an innovative approach to funding R&D at a time when there is little room in the federal budget for new research programs.

A bill (S. 1302) introduced May 29 by Sen. James Exon (D-Neb.) would create a technology trust fund with royalties from the sale of products that originated in federally funded research. It would require institutions and individuals receiving federal grants and contracts to give to the trust a small portion of any profits derived from the research.

In introducing the bill, Exon suggested that the government receive royalties of 2 to 5 percent from sales of a product or process. “This minimal percentage will not discourage research efforts,” he said.

A broader proposal for a...

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