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Edited by David B. Audretsch, Oliver Falck, Stephan Heblich and Adam Lederer
Chapter 21: What Do Scientists Think About Commercialization Activities?
Werner Bönte INTRODUCTION The commercialization of knowledge generated by universities and public research institutions is an important driver of economic growth in developed economies since the innovative activities of firms are often dependent on access to related academic research, with innovations in some industries significantly affected by academic research (Mansfield, 1995; Jaffe, 1989; Cohen and Levinthal, 1990). The inflow of knowledge from public research institutions is especially important for firms operating in fields with high speeds of technological change, like biotechnology, new materials and nanotechnology (Cockburn and Henderson, 2000; Pavitt, 1998; Zucker et al., 1998). There are two major channels through which scientific knowledge is transferred to the private sector. First, firms may benefit from academic research because scientists present their results at conferences or publish them in scientific journals. Consequently, this publicly available knowledge can be used by firms and may positively affect the firms’ innovation process. Second, academic researchers may be directly engaged in commercialization activities, like patenting, joint research with private firms, contract research, consulting and university-spinoffs. One might speculate that not just firms, but also scientists, might be interested in the transfer of scientific knowledge. However, in spite of the importance of academic research for firm innovation, recent European innovation data show that ‘the link between publicly financed science and innovative industry is rather weak’ (Parvan, 2007, p. 1). One explanation for this weak link may be that many firms are unaware of the commercial potential of academic research or that they are reluctant to...
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