U.S. Patent and Trademark Office visits VU to discuss research translation, trademarking and patenting, inclusive innovation

Senior leadership from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently visited Vanderbilt University to learn more about the innovation ecosystem in Nashville and about translational research being conducted on campus. They also collaborated on how to commercialize intellectual property, discussed opportunities for inclusive innovation, and strategized how to create a recruitment pipeline for Vanderbilt students to enter USPTO careers.

“Inclusive innovation thrives when higher education and government collaborate to bring new ideas to market,” said Yesi Sevilla, director of strategic engagement and ecosystem development at the Wond’ry, Vanderbilt’s Innovation Center.

Having a patent can significantly benefit a startup. According to America’s Small Business Development Centers, a partner program of the Small Business Administration, it can boost the chances of securing venture capital funding by 76 percent over three years. Startups that obtain their first patent witness a 36 percent increase in employee growth over the next five years. After that, companies with patents observe an overall 80 percent increase in sales compared with those without patents.

Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver and Vice Provost of Research and Innovation Padma Raghavan hosted the USPTO leadership, including Hope Shimabuku and Jacob Choi, director and assistant director of the Texas Regional USPTO, respectively, and Jason Lott, managing attorney of Trademarks Customer Outreach at the USPTO. Organized by the Wond’ry, the visit built on earlier events that focused on how the USPTO helps new businesses expand into new and global markets.

Dede Zecher

“The discussion with key leaders in the higher education landscape, including Vandy’s great Wond’ry team, reinforced the importance of collaboration, idea-sharing and best practice metrics when it comes to expanding inclusive innovation and incentivizing IP protection in learning environments,” said Dede Kane Zecher, BS’03, chief adviser to the U.S. undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO. Zecher received a bachelor of science degree in both computer science and math from Vanderbilt.