It's free, if you use it properly. That's what the University of NSW has reportedly said to companies about the results of its research. I believe that this is a responsible step in testing different intellectual property (IP) models, and I'm really interested to see how it turns out.
According to a report this morning in The Australian, the university will give away rights to 80 per cent of its intellectual property as long as it can be shown that it will be used for economic and social benefit.
The man behind the move, Kevin Cullin, has apparently done similar things at the University of Glasgow in Ireland.
This means that research being done by Australian universities might find practical applications, furthering our wellbeing and prosperity, instead of sitting unused in an academic hallway.
I'd agree with Cullen, who said that universities spend a lot more on protecting IP than they make from utilising it commercially. Sometimes a set of fresh eyes is all that's needed for a commercial power to be born. Just like providing government data for developers to use in applications, you never know what innovations will be born from something you didn't even have time to consider.
Critics were quoted in the article as saying that this type of program is already happening at other universities, but it's likely not the same, as it's not really free, but in return for some form of contra agreement.
I hope that it's a success, and that we might see a wave of new Australian business riding on the back of Australian research.