Efforts to encourage student innovation got a boost this week when the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors approved revisions to the university’s intellectual property policy.

The guidelines clarify that Virginia Tech generally does not claim ownership of intellectual property created by students. An additional policy revision clarifies when faculty members retain their intellectual property rights if Virginia Tech itself does not wish to pursue the idea.

The revisions were approved by the Virginia Tech Commission on Research and the University Council before being approved by the Board of Visitors on Monday.

“An important part of Virginia Tech’s land grant mission is to advance industrial and commercial uses of intellectual property, such as new inventions," said Dennis Dean, interim vice president for research. “We encourage activity that enriches our innovative culture and provides useful experience to entrepreneurial-minded students with exciting ideas, and the policy clarifies situations when the university does not claim ownership of ideas.”

To further encourage innovation, Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc., located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, established afternoon office hours on campus earlier this year to better serve student entrepreneurs.

If students create intellectual property during academic coursework, the students retain ownership of the idea as long as they aren’t being paid by the university, the university has no pre-existing obligations in connection with the intellectual property, and any tools used in the development of idea are available to other students in the course.

Entrepreneurs and companies typically work with Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties to license inventions to commercialize technology. In return royalties and/or licensing fees are paid to the university and shared with the inventors, departments, and the intellectual property office.

Research and development awards at Virginia Tech climbed to $513.1 million in fiscal year 2014. Ranked No. 38 by the National Science Foundation for fiscal year 2013 expenditures, Virginia Tech is the only university in the commonwealth among the national top 50 research schools.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.


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