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Academic patenting: the importance of industry support

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Abstract

This paper provides evidence that university-industry collaboration is important for turning commercial opportunities into patents. The results suggest that researchers who receive a large share of research grants from industry have a higher propensity to file a patent. Small dissemination grants generally exert a positive effect, whether they come from industry or not. It also finds that these interactions do not increase the number of industry owned patents alone but benefit universities’ commercialisation efforts in general.

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Notes

  1. Data were collected from the ESPACE ACCESS CD-Rom, a bibliographic information service on European and World patent applications.

  2. 6 more universities sent records for a shorter period, 6 universities sent partial information, e.g. industry funding or researcher names were missing and 18 universities chose not to cooperate. For some of the 10 universities funding is available for earlier years, e.g. for 3 from 1990 onwards.

  3. Information was taken from personal websites or the Index to Theses, a listing of theses accepted for higher degrees in UK and Ireland.

  4. Patents, publications and funding differ significantly by calendar year and academic rank. Since we oversample on senior researchers due to the need for a long observation period, group differences may be correlated to differences in academic rank.

  5. The oldest granted UKIPO patent dates from 1964, indicating that patenting is not a new phenomenon in universities in the UK. However, before 1978 the UKIPO only published granted patents, those not granted were never published. Following the Patent Act in 1977, the UKIPO started to publish all patents filed under the act as patent applications. The EPO was established in 1977 and publishes all European patents as applications.

  6. A further 42 US patents were found but are not considered as the USPO only started publishing patent applications after February 2001. Before March 2001 only granted patents were published.

  7. Grant values were deflated and represent 2007 equivalent values. Results are very similar if only grants above £100,000 are considered research grants. Results also do not differ if amount is chosen instead of grant number.

  8. The earliest possible reference year is 1978, which represents the first year we measure patent activity.

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Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Albert Banal-Estanol, Mireia Jofre-Bonet, Alan Marco, Pierre Mohnen, Reinhilde Veugelers and participants of the DIME Final Conference (Maastricht), SEEK Kick-Off Conference (Mannheim), Zvi Griliches Seminar (Barcelona) and EARIE Conference (Stockholm) for their comments and suggestions. She would also like to thank Francesco Lissoni and Valerio Sterzi for sharing data from the EP-INV project. The data for this paper were collected as part of the ESRC research grant RES-000-22-2806. The paper further contributes to the research projects “Policy Incentives for the Creation of Knowledge: Methods and Evidence” (PICK-ME, Grant 266959) and “An Observatorium for Science in Society based in Social Models” (SISOB, Grant 266588), both funded by the European Union D.G. Research. Sponsorship through a Network of Excellence DIME Mobility Fellowship and a Short Visit Grant within the ESF Activity ‘Academic Patenting in Europe’ as well as support from Collegio Carlo Alberto and CIRCLE Lund University are also gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Cornelia Lawson.

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 6.

Table 6 List of universities

Appendix 2

See Table 7.

Table 7 Sample distribution differences

Appendix 3

See Table 8.

Table 8 Means by engineering field

Appendix 4

See Table 9.

Table 9 Logistic regression of patenting probability (without Cambridge)

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Lawson, C. Academic patenting: the importance of industry support. J Technol Transf 38, 509–535 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-012-9266-7

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