University technology transfer is often associated with formal transmission of science-based inventions, for instance through the licensing of patented technology to a firm. Formal conceptions of technology transfer limit our ability to understand fully how scientific knowledge evolves into industrial and social application. In this introductory article, we discuss how knowledge is shared and accessed across boundaries, and argue for a broader conceptualization including the transfer, translation, and transformation of knowledge. This view underlies a necessary conceptual shift from formal technology transfer to a more encompassing conception of pathways for knowledge exchange. We discuss promising avenues for extending research on university technology transfer relating to broadening the set of pathways considered, exploring the interplay of pathways, examining new pathways, including broader outcomes and impacts, and methodological challenges in measuring knowledge exchange. Finally, we summarize the empirical papers in the special section and how they contribute to a wider understanding of the exchange of university knowledge.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ankrah, S., & Al-Tabbaa, O. (2015). Universities–industry collaboration: A systematic review. Scandinavian Journal of Management,31(3), 387–408. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scaman.2015.02.003.
Azagra-Caro, J. M., Barberá-Tomás, D., Edwards-Schachter, M., & Tur, E. M. (2017). Dynamic interactions between university–industry knowledge transfer channels: A case study of the most highly cited academic patent. Research Policy,46(2), 463–474. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2016.11.011.
Bozeman, B. (2000). Technology transfer and public policy: A review of research and theory. Research Policy,29(4–5), 627–655.
Bradley, S. R., Hayter, C. S., & Link, A. N. (2013a). Models and methods of university technology transfer. Foundations and Trends® in Entrepreneurship,9(6), 571–650. https://doi.org/10.1561/0300000048.
Bradley, S. R., Hayter, C. S., & Link, A. N. (2013b). Proof of concept centers in the United States: An exploratory look. The Journal of Technology Transfer,38(4), 349–381. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-013-9309-8.
Bray, M. J., & Lee, J. N. (2000). University revenues from technology transfer: Licensing fees versus equity positions. Journal of Business Venturing,15(5–6), 385–392.
Brescia, F., Colombo, G., & Landoni, P. (2016). Organizational structures of Knowledge Transfer Offices: An analysis of the world’s top-ranked universities. The Journal of Technology Transfer,41(1), 132–151. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-014-9384-5.
Brown, R., Gregson, G., & Mason, C. (2016). A post-mortem of regional innovation policy failure: Scotland’s Intermediate Technology Initiative (ITI). Regional Studies,50(7), 1260–1272. https://doi.org/10.1080/00343404.2014.985644.
Carlile, P. R. (2004). Transferring, translating, and transforming: An integrative framework for managing knowledge across boundaries. Organization Science,15(5), 555–568. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1040.0094.
Croce, A., Grilli, L., & Murtinu, S. (2014). Venture capital enters academia: An analysis of university-managed funds. Journal of Technology Transfer, 39, 688–715.
D’Este, P., & Patel, P. (2007). University–industry linkages in the UK: What are the factors underlying the variety of interactions with industry? Research Policy,36(9), 1295–1313.
Fini, R., Lacetera, N., & Shane, S. (2010). Inside or outside the IP system? Business creation in academia. Research Policy,39(8), 1060–1069. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2010.05.014.
Fini, R., Rasmussen, E., Siegel, D., & Wiklund, J. (2018). Rethinking the commercialization of public science: From entrepreneurial outcomes to societal impacts. The Academy of Management Perspectives,32(1), 4–20. https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2017.0206.
Franzoni, C., & Sauermann, H. (2014). Crowd science: The organization of scientific research in open collaborative projects. Research Policy,43(1), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2013.07.005.
Friesike, S., Widenmayer, B., Gassmann, O., & Schildhauer, T. (2015). Opening science: Towards an agenda of open science in academia and industry. The Journal of Technology Transfer,40(4), 581–601. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-014-9375-6.
Grimaldi, R., Kenney, M., Siegel, D. S., & Wright, M. (2011). 30 years after Bayh–Dole: Reassessing academic entrepreneurship. Research Policy,40(8), 1045–1057. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2011.04.005.
Gulbrandsen, M., & Rasmussen, E. (2012). The use and development of indicators for the commercialisation of university research in a national support programme. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management,24(5), 481–495. https://doi.org/10.1080/09537325.2012.674670.
Hayter, C. S. (2011). In search of the profit-maximizing actor: Motivations and definitions of success from nascent academic entrepreneurs. Journal of Technology Transfer,36(3), 340–352. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-010-9196-1.
Hayter, C., & Link, A. (2018). Why do knowledge-intensive entrepreneurial firms publish their innovative ideas? The Academy of Management Perspectives. https://doi.org/10.5465/amp.2016.0128.
Hayter, C. S., Nelson, A. J., Zayed, S., & O’Connor, A. C. (2018). Conceptualizing academic entrepreneurship ecosystems: A review, analysis and extension of the literature. The Journal of Technology Transfer. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-018-9657-5.
Hayter, C. S., & Rooksby, J. H. (2016). A legal perspective on university technology transfer. The Journal of Technology Transfer,41(2), 270–289. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-015-9436-5.
Hughes, A., & Kitson, M. (2012). Pathways to impact and the strategic role of universities: New evidence on the breadth and depth of university knowledge exchange in the UK and the factors constraining its development. Cambridge Journal of Economics,36(3), 723–750. https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/bes017.
Huyghe, A., Knockaert, M., Piva, E., & Wright, M. (2016). Are researchers deliberately bypassing the technology transfer office? An analysis of TTO awareness. Small Business Economics,47(3), 589–607. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-016-9757-2.
Jacobsson, S., Lindholm-Dahlstrand, Å., & Elg, L. (2013). Is the commercialization of European academic R&D weak?—A critical assessment of a dominant belief and associated policy responses. Research Policy,42(4), 874–885. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2013.01.005.
Lam, A. (2011). What motivates academic scientists to engage in research commercialization: ‘Gold’, ‘ribbon’ or ‘puzzle’? Research Policy,40(10), 1354–1368. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2011.09.002.
Link, A. N., Siegel, D. S., & Bozeman, B. (2007). An empirical analysis of the propensity of academics to engage in informal university technology transfer. Industrial and Corporate Change,16(4), 641–655. https://doi.org/10.1093/icc/dtm020.
Mian, S. A. (1996). Assessing value-added contributions of university technology business incubators to tenant firms. Research Policy,25(3), 325–335.
Mowery, D. C., Nelson, R. R., Sampat, B. N., & Ziedonis, A. A. (2001). The growth of patenting and licensing by US universities: An assessment of the effects of the Bayh–Dole act of 1980. Research Policy,30(1), 99–119.
Munari, F., Rasmussen, E., Toschi, L., & Villani, E. (2016). Determinants of the university technology transfer policy-mix: A cross-national analysis of gap-funding instruments. The Journal of Technology Transfer,41(6), 1377–1405. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-015-9448-1.
O’Gorman, C., Byrne, O., & Pandya, D. (2008). How scientists commercialise new knowledge via entrepreneurship. The Journal of Technology Transfer,33(1), 23–43.
O’Kane, C., Mangematin, V., Geoghegan, W., & Fitzgerald, C. (2015). University technology transfer offices: The search for identity to build legitimacy. Research Policy,44(2), 421–437. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2014.08.003.
O’Shea, R. P., Allen, T. J., Chevalier, A., & Roche, F. (2005). Entrepreneurial orientation, technology transfer and spinoff performance of US universities. Research Policy,34(7), 994–1009.
Perkmann, M., & Schildt, H. (2015). Open data partnerships between firms and universities: The role of boundary organizations. Research Policy,44(5), 1133–1143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2014.12.006.
Perkmann, M., Tartari, V., McKelvey, M., Autio, E., Broström, A., D’Este, P., et al. (2013). Academic engagement and commercialisation: A review of the literature on university–industry relations. Research Policy,42(2), 423–442. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2012.09.007.
Pitsakis, K., Souitaris, V., & Nicolaou, N. (2015). The peripheral halo effect: Do academic spinoffs influence universities’ research income? Journal of Management Studies,52(3), 321–353. https://doi.org/10.1111/joms.12119.
Rasmussen, E. (2006). Two models for university technology transfer operation: Patent agency and 2g. International Journal of Technology Transfer and Commercialisation,5(4), 291–307.
Rooksby, J. H., & Hayter, C. S. (2017). Copyrights in higher education: Motivating a research agenda. The Journal of Technology Transfer. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-017-9632-6.
Stanko, M. A., & Henard, D. H. (2016). How crowdfunding influences innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review,57(3), 15.
Steinmo, M., & Rasmussen, E. (2016). How firms collaborate with public research organizations: The evolution of proximity dimensions in successful innovation projects. Journal of Business Research,69(3), 1250–1259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.09.006.
Van Looy, B., Landoni, P., Callaert, J., van Pottelsberghe, B., Sapsalis, E., & Debackere, K. (2011). Entrepreneurial effectiveness of European universities: An empirical assessment of antecedents and trade-offs. Research Policy,40(4), 553–564. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2011.02.001.
About this article
Cite this article
Hayter, C.S., Rasmussen, E. & Rooksby, J.H. Beyond formal university technology transfer: innovative pathways for knowledge exchange. J Technol Transf 45, 1–8 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-018-9677-1
- University technology transfer
- Alternative models
- Technology commercialization
- Knowledge exchange