Med school needs grants
to succeed, expert says
An intellectual property executive
says growth at the new UH
facility may be a long process
The state is building a new $150 million medical school complex in Kakaako for the University of Hawaii, saying it will spur growth in the local biotechnology industry, but the university's patent royalties are small compared to other major research universities, said Bruce A. Lehman, president and chief executive of the International Intellectual Property Institute.
"It's kind of like they're building the building on the assumption people will come," he said. Yet, the way of ensuring the investment will pay off is if the university attracts big research grants, and creates new start-up companies.
Even universities that have done it well, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, say it is a 20-year process, Lehman said.
The issue for a university, Lehman said yesterday, is one of taking the university's research achievements, sorting out what has potential, and creating an environment where professors can jump into the private sector to make money. Faculty need to understand that making money is an important part of the research.
Lehman, who is speaking tomorrow at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki on the subject of intellectual property as an economic engine for Hawaii, served as assistant secretary of commerce and U.S. commissioner of patents and trademarks under the Clinton administration, from August 1993 through December 1998. Before that, he was a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm, representing clients from the computer software, motion picture, telecommunications, broadcasting and pharmaceutical industries.
Lehman said he'd like to give a pep talk and educate the business community about the importance of intellectual property issues, both economically and culturally.