Just the Facts, Ma’am, Just the Facts

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Facts are facts. Gravity. Calories. Credits. Debits. Taxes. Death.

On their own, facts may be interesting and even intriguing … but, until they become relevant, until they become my facts, facts that have a bearing upon me (and my community), then, they are just cold, hard, distant facts.

Relevant facts, on the contrary, have flesh and blood and bone. They have “skin in the game.” Skin in my game.

So, here’s a fact: Northeastern University made the list of the top 100 universities worldwide for the most granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2015.

Here’s another fact: MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Duke, and other notables also found seats at the granted patent table.

Another set of facts: This list is compiled by the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association whose joint mission is “to recognize and encourage inventors with patents … enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.”

See? Interesting …. But….. How are they relevant to me?

Discerning relevance #1

Patents illustrate that institutions are making sizable investments of money and brainpower into cracking the code of the unknown. And, when combined with Northeastern’s theme of “use-inspired research,” this means that the disclosed unknown will move beyond esoteric textbooks and actually find its way into my hand, pocket, car, living room, etc

Discerning relevance #2

Regularly, universities rely upon businesses to bring to market the innovations they generate. This is an intensive process requiring substantial risk and ingenuity, and patents incentivize companies to license university intellectual property and turn it into commercial items like reinforced fabrics that enhance my workout gear; fine-tuned drug compounds that enable my health; supercharged nanobatteries that keep my phone running for days.

Discerning relevance #3

It’s just plain cool to have patents. Cool like Mr. T, A-Team cool. If I was an inventor, I would want them on my resume!

So …

Sometimes the “me” in a fact is patently obvious.

Sometimes a little “mining” is needed.

But, that nugget of relevance certainly makes things more interesting.



To brush up on patent terminology, read: “Don’t Call My Baby Ugly: Inventions, Patents, and Obviousness.”

To peruse Northeastern’s pioneering technologies, click here.

To watch episodes of the A-Team … well, we’ll leave that one up to you.

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