A new technology graduate school aimed at smoothing the path between research and entrepreneurship can boast a new distinction: the country's first on-campus patent officer, officials announced Tuesday.
A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office staffer already is working at the Cornell NYC Tech applied sciences school's temporary locale at Google's Manhattan office, where the school is set to enroll its first class next year.
The patent office has recently unveiled plans for satellite offices in places ranging from Detroit to California's Silicon Valley. But the "innovation and outreach coordinator" at Cornell NYC Tech is a novel effort to help innovators on campus — and in the city at large — get advice on capitalizing on their ideas, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and patent office Director David Kappos said.
"For the first time, by stationing personnel on the ground of a major graduate research institution, the USPTO will tear down the walls between university research and the federal support that has the power to help move that research from the lab to the marketplace," Kappos said at a news conference.
The staffer may consult one-on-one and give classes on such topics as how to best to write a patent application, what financial help might be available and what commercial strategy to pursue, Blank said.
Beyond advice on navigating the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship, the plan aims to foster discussion on one of tech's touchy subjects: the balance between protecting intellectual property and fostering the public benefits of innovation, such as making computer code publicly available for others to adapt and build on.
"That dialogue is something that the United States has to have," Cornell President David J. Skorton said. "This is a conduit for the U.S. government to be working directly with the innovation community ... to figure out: What's the right place for intellectual property in one of the areas of our economy that's growing like crazy right now?"
Cornell and the Commerce Department will share the staff and administrative costs, the agency said; a figure wasn't immediately available.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration has been striving to cast New York City as an up-and-coming competitor to Silicon Valley, partly by offering free land and an estimated $100 million worth of infrastructure improvements to lure a state-of-the-art applied-sciences school. Cornell and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology won a competition that drew seven proposals last year.
About 20 students are to be admitted to the first class in a master's degree program that starts in January in the current space, donated by Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. The school's permanent home on Roosevelt Island, now a mostly residential enclave on the East River, is to open in 2017.
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