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Bursting the dam? Glasgow pioneers free Intellectual Property for industry

The University of Glasgow is to offer Intellectual Property – including ground-breaking medical and scientific research – to business and entrepreneurs free of charge.  Speeding up and simplifying IP transfer, the move will revolutionise the relationship between academic research and commercial enterprise and make Glasgow the most libertarian University in the UK for IP access.  Through a dedicated University of Glasgow website – ‘Easy Access IP’ – cutting edge innovation and patents will be immediately and directly available to those companies and individuals who can make best use of the research“.

I’m delighted to see this move from Glasgow.  Whilst it’s fair enough to be cynical, given its tie-up with IP Group and the detailed mix of Easy Access versus Commercial IP Deals, it’s at least a breach in the dam.  Whatever one’s view about individual deals, there’s a strong perception in industry that University Technology Transfer Offices have often made life several shades too difficult and expensive for entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to access University-originated IP.

This has been done before.  Famously, CERN management decided in the early 1990’s to make Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web.

CERN relinquishes all intellectual property rights to this code, both source and binary form and permission is granted for anyone to use, duplicate, modify and redistribute it“.

This noteworthy decision transformed the physical computer network into a practical and scalable means of sharing data.  Berners-Lee’s hyperlink enabled simple and instantaneous sharing of data between remote servers.

Will Glasgow’s move be as momentous as CERN’s?  Who knows?  But I hope that businesses will welcome, and, more importantly, take advantage of the offer, and that other Universities will follow suit.  Perhaps the days of the Smaug-like TTO are numbered?

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