About Us

The Duke Law Center for Innovation Policy brings together legal professionals, technology and business leaders, government officials, and academic experts to identify improvements to federal law and policy that will promote innovation and economic growth. The Center focuses on federal policy affecting technological advances in the information, communications, and life sciences industries. The Center is based both in Duke’s Washington location and in Durham, where it draws upon the expertise of North Carolina’s concentration of IT, biopharmaceutical, and financial firms.

The Center’s Faculty Co-Directors, law professors Stuart Benjamin and Arti Rai, have done extensive academic work on spectrum auctions, broadband regulation, patent system improvement, and effective diffusion of federally funded research. Benjamin and Rai have also translated their research into practice through appointments to senior executive positions at (respectively) the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Center’s Executive Director, Stephen Merrill, was a senior staffer in the Senate before founding and leading the National Academies’ Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) Program. During Merrill’s tenure, STEP produced numerous influential policy recommendations, including proposed changes to the patent system that served as a blueprint for the America Invents Act of 2011.

Wes Cohen and Aaron Chatterji, faculty affiliates of the Center and professors at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, have conducted internationally recognized research on firms’ strategies to capture returns from innovation and how they are influenced by government policies. Chatterji has also served as an economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisors. The Center is also part of the university-wide Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative funded by Duke alumnus David Rubenstein. As such, it draws faculty not only from the Law and Business Schools but also from the Pratt School of Engineering, the School of Medicine, and the Sanford School of Public Policy.