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University of Washington celebrates 40th anniversary of landmark Bayh-Dole Act with launch of Husky FAST Start licensing

Written by Debra Bouchegnies / December 9, 2020
                            • UW surpasses milestone of 5,000 licenses since bill was enacted
                            • Increased impact of UW innovations through licensing and access
                            • Faster time to market with streamlined licensing option

On December 12, the Bayh-Dole Act, which empowers universities, small businesses and nonprofit institutions to take ownership of inventions made during federally-funded research, turns 40. It allowed licensing of these inventions by their creators and employers for further applied research and development and broader public use. Since its passage, the Bayh-Dole Act has bolstered U.S. economic output by up to $1.7 trillion, supported 5.9 million jobs, and helped create more than 13,000 startup companies.1

The law has enabled University of Washington (UW) researchers and students to bring innovations that save and change lives to market for the past 40 years. Benefits have also been realized far beyond the direct impact of the Act — the infrastructure built by universities to manage federally funded inventions has supported the commercialization of innovations from all sources of funding and it has facilitated partnerships with industry. In fact, since the law’s inception in 1980, UW has signed over 5,000 licenses to commercialize university intellectual property from life science and tech-related patents to copyrighted materials. Some of the most impactful UW innovations include:

  • Making the Hepatitis B vaccine possible

In 1981, Drs. Benjamin Hall and Gustave Ammerer disclosed a technology enabling protein manufacturing in yeast. The invention enabled pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop some of the world’s most important vaccines, and to mass produce therapeutic and diagnostic proteins. These include the Hepatitis B vaccine, HPV vaccine, and insulin for diabetic patients. More than a billion people worldwide have lived healthier and longer lives because of this research.

  • Giving rise to Bluetooth

As an undergraduate at the University of Washington’s electrical engineering department during the mid-1990s, Ed Suominen invented a radio receiver technology that became a key component in Bluetooth-enabled wireless devices. For 10 years, the Washington Research Foundation (WRF) prosecuted the application, which grew into a portfolio of U.S. patents. WRF signed license agreements with more than a dozen companies wanting access to this valuable portfolio.

  • Detecting early melanoma

The HMB-45 antibody, isolated by A. M. Gown and A. M. Vogel from UW’s Department of Pathology in 1986, is highly specific for primary and metastatic melanoma and has become a widely used reagent for the detection of early melanoma. Malignant melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Although it accounts for only 4 percent of all dermatologic cancers, it is responsible for 80 percent of deaths from skin malignancy.

  • Transforming scientific data into clinical knowledge

Dr. Rene Levy and Dr. Isabelle Ragueneau-Majlessi co-founded the UW Drug Interaction Database (DIDB), which has been used for over 20 years by pharmaceutical researchers and regulatory scientists around the world for drug interaction assessments and drug safety evaluations. Last year, the program announced a new organization, UW Drug Interaction Solutions, to better reflect its expanded activities and offerings including outreach, collaboration, and training.

  • Ushering in the era of protein design: The Rosetta software environment

Rosetta is arguably the most sophisticated software for modeling the three-dimensional structure of proteins and for designing new proteins from scratch. It was initially developed by Dr. David Baker and his laboratory beginning in 1996, and has driven major advances in computational biology, including engineered proteins to fight infections, produce biofuels, and improve food stability. Rosetta is currently licensed to over 40,000 academic and government users, and to several dozen companies both large and small. Development and maintenance of Rosetta has moved beyond the University of Washington to Rosetta Commons, a unique partnership between universities, government laboratories, institutes, and nonprofit research centers.

“When we design a new protein in the laboratory, we ask how that technology can best serve humanity,” said David Baker, director of the UW Institute for Protein Design (IPD). “Due to provisions in the Bayh-Dole Act, since 2012 we have contributed to eight biotechnology companies. In the last two years, these companies collectively raised more than $150 million to advance downstream applications of protein design. These spinouts help ensure that the IPD’s breakthroughs translate into real-world impact.”

“The University of Washington commercialization resources have given us the ability to license the UW Drug Interaction Database (DIDB) for almost two decades and support scientists around the world in their evaluation of drug-drug interaction mechanisms and clinical management options,” said Isabelle Ragueneau-Majlessi, director of UW Drug Interaction Solutions. “The database is internationally recognized as an authoritative, unbiased, and transparent research tool by over 140 organizations from over 40 countries.

CoMotion, UW’s collaborative innovation hub, distributes UW innovations under a number of licensing approaches that best fit the business plan and goals of the licensee. We are pleased to introduce Husky FAST Start, a streamlined startup licensing product that rapidly moves innovations to licensing in a fair and equitable way. Husky FAST Start fosters trust through a standardized, transparent, and understandable process. It shortens the negotiation timeline and minimizes negotiation costs. (See “Licensing UW Innovations” for information on all the licensing products.)

“A pilot version of Husky FAST Start has already benefited over 35 UW startups,” said Fiona Wills, UW associate vice provost for innovation development and commercialization at CoMotion. “With benchmarked terms, founders can focus on what really matters: building a great team and taking their innovation to market.”

“Thanks to Bayh-Dole, tens of thousands of game-changing innovations have been made available to the public,”said François Baneyx, UW vice provost for innovation and director of CoMotion. “The Act has made universities indispensable partners in transforming scholarly discoveries into inventions, products, and services, and in facilitating technology transfer to new and existing companies. For the past 40 years, UW has been at the forefront, turning ideas into impact and transforming lives and our world.”

About the University of Washington and CoMotion

Ranked by Reuters as the #1 most innovative public university in the world for the last five years, the University of Washington is a leading recipient of federal funding research, producing innovations that have the power to change the world.

CoMotion at the University of Washington partners with the UW community on their innovation journey, providing tools, connections, and acumen to transform ideas into economic and societal impact. Find more information at


Donna O’Neill

Marketing & Communications

CoMotion at University of Washington

p: 206.685.9972


  1. Source: Association of University Technology Managers.