PUBLISHED:July 10, 2014

Center for Innovation Policy promotes innovation that spurs long-term economic growth

Duke Law's Center for Innovation Policy  facilitates the identification and implementation of laws and policies that nurture innovation, an important driver of economic growth in developed countries.

Professor Arti Rai, an internationally recognized expert in intellectual property law, administrative law, and health policy, and Professor Stuart Benjamin, a leading scholar of telecommunications law, administrative law, and the First Amendment, bring deep experience in the policy arena to their leadership of the center. They are bringing scholars and practitioners together to address legal and policy issues surrounding the diffusion and commercialization of sci­ence and technology in industries, with a focus on three areas: information technology and telecommunications, life sciences, and energy. They also plan to consider cross-cutting issues in innovation policy that are not limited to one industry.

“Most existing academic centers focus on intellectual property, or law and technology beyond intellectual prop­erty, but without honing in on a goal,” said Rai, the Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law. “For us, the goal is promoting the innovation that spurs long-term economic growth.” The center occupies a unique space between purely theoretical scholarship and think tanks that are more oriented to spe­cific short-term issues, she added.

And while the center takes advantage of Duke’s signifi­cant presence in and close proximity to Washington, it remains independent.

“We have no clients,” said Benjamin, the Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law. “We are trying to think at a higher level of abstraction than typical D.C. think tanks, but still in the real world and with aspirations for influencing policy.”

The center has close ties with Duke University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, under the leadership of Professor Eric Toone, and with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Fuqua School of Business. It also complements and advances other Duke Law initiatives relating to entrepreneurship and innovation, such as the Law and Entrepreneurship LLM, the dual JD/ LLM offering, and the Start-Up Ventures Clinic.

Innovation in the biopharmaceutical sector was the focus of the center’s inaugural conference, held Nov. 22 in Washington. Leaders from government, industry, and academia discussed drug development incentives in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis. The conference has inspired several articles, said Rai, including a forthcoming peer-reviewed contribution to Nature Translational Medicine, co-authored with Grant Rice ’15.

Leading figures from the government, industry, and academia, will address the future of the regulation of broad­band networks at the center’s next conference, to be held in Washington on Oct. 17. “We want them to look beyond the controversies of the moment and focus instead on the longer-term future of Internet regulation,” said Benjamin, who served as the first distinguished scholar at the Federal Communications Commission from 2009 to 2011. The conference, titled “Internet Regulation in 2020,” will begin with a keynote address by Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet who created its key protocols.