From Social Institution to Knowledge Business
Edited by Maureen McKelvey and Magnus Holmén
Chapter 7: The American Experience in University Technology Transfer
Maryann P. Feldman and Shiri M. Breznitz American research universities entered a new era in 1980 with the passage of the Bayh–Dole Act. Moving beyond publication and teaching, the traditional modes of disseminating academic inventions, universities now actively manage their discoveries in a process known as technology transfer. All American research universities now have operations dedicated to securing invention disclosures from campus research and establishing intellectual property rights over them. These oﬃces then work to license the rights to use the intellectual property, either to existing ﬁrms or encouraging the formation of new ﬁrms for this purpose. When places around the world attempt to emulate American competitiveness and technology-based economic growth, the US Bayh–Dole Act and the system of university technology transfer is one of the ﬁrst policy changes considered. This chapter examines the American experience in university technology transfer with the intention of increasing understanding of how the system currently functions. Despite the conventional wisdom, American universities have had limited success generating licensing revenue, however, technology transfer assumes new importance as institutions looking to align themselves with economic development. Critics are concerned about the erosion of traditional academic norms and values (Slaughter and Leslie, 1997; Press and Washburn, 2000). Proponents cite the successful commercialization and social beneﬁts of new products and processes to beneﬁt humanity (Association of University Technology Managers, 2007). Certainly, the socially optimal long-term goal is to promote the use and diﬀusion of academic discoveries while preserving the potential for long-run...
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