PUBLISHED:November 13, 2013

Duke Law’s new Center for Innovation Policy promotes innovation that spurs long-term economic growth

Duke Law’s new 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.  The center’s inaugural conference, which will be held Nov. 22 in Washington, D.C., will focus on innovation in the biopharmaceutical sector.

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 aim to bring scholars and practitioners together to address legal and policy issues surrounding the diffusion and commercialization of science and technology in industries ranging from information technology and telecommunications to 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.”

Rai added that the center will occupy a unique space between purely theoretical scholarship and think tanks that are more oriented to specific short-term issues.

And while the center will take advantage of Duke’s significant presence in and close proximity to Washington, it will further distinguish itself by remaining independent.

“We have no clients,” said Benjamin, the Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law, who served as the first Distinguished Scholar at the Federal Communications Commission from 2009 to 2011. “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.”

“Duke Law is well suited to host the Center for Innovation Policy.  Professors Rai and Benjamin, along with many of their law faculty colleagues, bring tremendous insight and experience to the study of innovation law and policy,” said Dean David F. Levi.  “This center both fits with and advances the Law School’s initiatives relating to entrepreneurship and innovation, such as our Law and Entrepreneurship LLM and dual JD/LLM offering and our Start-Up Ventures Clinic.  It also advances Duke University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, which supports and cultivates research and teaching in these areas across disciplines, and benefits from its partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.  The Triangle itself is a great place in which to study innovation since it is one of the innovation hubs of the nation.”

“New Approaches and Incentives in Drug Development”

At the center’s inaugural conference, on Nov. 22, leaders from government, industry, and academia will discuss drug development incentives in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year in Federal Trade Commission v. Actavis.   By making it more difficult for brand-name drug manufacturers to pay generic firms to drop claims of non-infringement or patent invalidity, the ruling may shorten the effective patent term for small molecule drugs, said Rai, who served as the Administrator of the Office of External Affairs at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 2009 to 2010.  

Panel discussions in the morning will focus on the current incentive regime and the rise of new research models within it. In the afternoon, participants will compare innovation in biopharmaceuticals with other industries and discuss options for new or different incentives to support drug development.

Jerome H. Reichman, the Bunyan S. Womble Professor of Law, will provide commentary for the closing panel, entitled “Alternative or Additional Incentives for Drug Development."  Panelists include David Ridley, Dr. and Mrs. Frank A. Riddick Associate Professor of the Practice of Business and Economics at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and Faculty Director of the Health Sector Management program

The conference will also feature scholars from Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, Columbia School of Public Health, Rutgers Law School and the University of Toronto. They will be joined by experts from AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon Communications, Compass Lexecon, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina, One Mind for Research, the Parkinson’s Action Network, FasterCures, and the National Institutes of Health.

The event, which is being held at the National Academy of Sciences, is sponsored by Duke Law, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and One Mind for Research, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to curing the diseases of the brain and eliminating the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and brain injuries. The conference is open to the public but registration is required due to because space is limited.

Future conferences and off-the-record roundtables will bring together entrepreneurs, innovators, policymakers and academics to discuss current issues in innovation and the role regulatory policy can plan in addressing those issues, said Benjamin.