An uptick in patents from historically Black colleges
You can’t leverage what you don’t measure, right?
That’s the big takeaway from this recent piece from ThePLUG, an innovative media outlet that brings data and fresh thinking to their reporting on Black innovation in tech. They’ve been measuring some interesting things lately.
RaceAhead has amplified their stories before, like these two published with Vice’s Motherboard channel, charting the rise of Black-owned co-working spaces and how Black tech conferences are influencing a less-than-diverse ecosystem.
But this one caught my eye because it seems like a smart and overlooked strategy for investors in search of good ideas: Turns out, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been cranking out more of them lately.
ThePlug’s data team analyzed information found in the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s (USPTO) database of patents granted at historically Black colleges and universities, which contains information from 1978-2012. Then they did additional research to update the dataset through 2019.
Come to find out, there’s been a significant uptick in new patents generated by a larger number of HBCUs since 2010:
The data shows that in the past decade HBCUs have seen a proliferation of new intellectual property. Overall, a total of 30 different HBCUs own patent rights. Morehouse School of Medicine currently holds the most patents of any HBCU with a total of 63 granted between 2000 to 2019. Howard University and Florida Agricultural and Technical University hold 53 and 41 patents, respectively.
And while endowment size typically equals innovation, that’s not always the case.
“Morehouse School of Medicine, for example, has a comparatively small endowment of $56 million, however, the institution produced the most patents of any HBCU,” explains Anisa Holmes. “On the other hand, Spelman College, which boasts an endowment of $389 million, has only produced eight patents over the last four decades.”
The trend line is good news for a variety of reasons.
For one, there are fewer HBCUs now, and many are struggling in an environment of reduced funding, diminishing applicant pools and dwindling endowments. And while IP creation is an important source of income for any university, HBCUs have been granted fewer patents than their Primarily White Institution (PWI) counterparts in the past. “While the financial gains of patents are significant, the rewards are generally reaped by a few elite Universities,” says Holmes.
Let’s hope the trend continues.
This is information I haven’t seen elsewhere, though I suppose it’s possible that Primarily White Venture Capital firms (PWVCs) are tracking innovation at HBCUs and not making the information publicly available.
But now it is! Click through to download ThePlug’s full HBCU patent database to learn more about the HoBE. (History of Black Excellence.)
|Black girls are not adults|
|Experts say black girls don't misbehave more or commit worse crimes, yet they receive harsher penalties for the same behaviors as their white peers. According to research at Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, black girls are “adultified” at a young age and aren’t offered as much nurturing and protection, even when programs are available. Click through for the story of C'alra Bradley, a good student who was set on an alternate path after a squabble with another student at her high school got her transferred, bullied, and left behind. She ended up homeless and in jail. “People say the system is here to protect you, but I never felt protected. I always felt it was against me. Always.”|
|Will Chicago become the most gender-friendly city in tech?|
|They seem to be trying. As the tech industry grows in Chicago, so do the efforts to make it as inclusive as possible. Built In Chicago caught up with seven different Chicago-based women technologists to see what they thought was working. They have a nice long list. Grubhub’s Senior Software Engineer Olga Dimitrijevic says it’s the ecosystem. “The city holds many conferences, meetups and organizations that champion women in STEM and provides mentorship for future software engineers and developers,” she says. But all say the city’s inherent diversity, number of jobs, networking opportunities, and training programs that make it so welcoming. VillageMD Liz Yuhas says, “I can easily say the reason I’m in Chicago is the great career opportunities the city provides for women in technology.”|
|Built In Chicago|
|A controversial ruling reminds us how little we understand about gender, sex, and winning|
|A new rule by the International Association of Athletics Federations has been recently upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that will affect female runners with high testosterone levels everywhere. It’s put Olympic Gold Medalist Caster Semenya, an intersex athlete, in the spotlight for unwelcome reasons. She will now be required to take testosterone suppressant to participate in races. Some think that because her body naturally produces more testosterone, she has an advantage that other female runners don't. But Katelyn Burns, a journalist and advocate, says not so fast. “The athletes with the highest testosterone are not always the winners,” she explains. “With the science unresolved, some of Semenya’s defenders see the CAS’s ruling as the latest salvo in a broader backlash against people who have bodies that defy stereotypes of womanhood.”|
|How not to write about people who don’t look like you|
|PhD candidate Brandon Taylor deepens the conversation about empathy by tackling the harms that are caused when people write about people who don’t look like themselves. Though he focuses on the literary sphere, the advice is applicable to marketers, communications pros and anyone who posts anything, anywhere. “Harmful writing happens when an author’s empathy becomes limited in scope,” he writes. Expand your mind.|
|The history of state-sanctioned genocide in California|
|History is a tough beast. And when it comes to stories that don’t square with the nobility of the American spirit, a particularly rough ride. But this particularly gruesome book by Benjamin Madley documents the systemic slaughter of the peaceful indigenous peoples of California that occurred between 1846-1873, saying it was not all that different from what happened to the Jews, Armenians or Rwandans.|
|Growing old in Little India|
|As parents become elders in India, they expect to be taken care of by relatives living close by. But for many people growing older in "Little India" neighborhoods across the U.S., that hasn't been an option. In a charming and surprising story, Ozy’s Sanjena Sathian explores the new world of India-themed retirement communities, that mimic, in extraordinary ways, the best possible versions of life back at home.|
|Ozy|Aidan Taylor assisted in the preparation of today's summaries.
Subscribe to Fortune Daily to get essential business stories straight to your inbox each morning.