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Inventions and Their Commercial Exploitation in German Universities: Analyzing Determinants Among Academic Researchers

Part of the FGF Studies in Small Business and Entrepreneurship book series (FGFS)

Abstract

Institutions of higher education are considered to be an important source of innovation and thereby a key driver of economic growth and development. Consequently, efforts are made to facilitate technology transfer from universities into the market. However, technology transfer in German universities does not seem to live up to its full potential: Using a sample of 7317 university scientists from 2013 covering 73 German universities, we find that while 18.5% of our scientists did in fact generate at least one invention, only 4.5% are actually engaged in commercialization activities. Based on this finding, we then analyze how individual, career-related, and institutional factors affect the innovation and knowledge transfer activities of male and female academics to understand why the vast majority of inventions remains commercially unexploited. We show that gender differences as well as career and human capital related factors (e.g., scope of employment, professional experience, and leadership position) affect innovation transfer activities. For example, while women generate fewer inventions than men, full-time employed researchers with professional experience outside of academia holding a leadership position generate more inventions and show partly higher exploitation activities than the average scientist. We also find positive effects of institutional factors on innovation transfer activities: using the services of patenting agencies, for example, not only leads to the generation of inventions but also to stating intellectual property rights and commercially exploiting these inventions.

Keywords

This chapter includes research insights and results presented in an earlier version hosted as a working paper in: Bijedić, T., Chlosta, S., & Werner, A. (2016). Inventions and their commercial exploitation in academic institutions: Analysing determinants among academics (Working Paper 04/16). Bonn: IfM Bonn.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to Xiangyu Chen for his helpful support. This study is based on the Survey on Potential Drivers of Entrepreneurial Activities of Academics in Germany (Hochschulbefragung des IfM Bonn) from the Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn. All results have been reviewed to ensure that no confidential information is disclosed. The authors’ program codes will be provided upon request. Any errors are our own. This paper reflects the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of the Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn.

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Bijedić, T., Chlosta, S., Werner, A. (2021). Inventions and Their Commercial Exploitation in German Universities: Analyzing Determinants Among Academic Researchers. In: Mietzner, D., Schultz, C. (eds) New Perspectives in Technology Transfer. FGF Studies in Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61477-5_2

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