Edited by David B. Audretsch, Oliver Falck, Stephan Heblich and Adam Lederer
Chapter 19: The Rise of University Technology Transfer and Academic Entrepreneurship: Managerial and Policy Implications
Donald S. Siegel INTRODUCTION A salient trend is the establishment and growth of technology transfer offices (henceforth TTOs) at research universities around the globe. These offices attempt to commercialize the university’s intellectual property, via patenting, licensing, and startup creation. The US-based Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM, 2008) reports that the annual number of patents granted to US universities rose from fewer than 300 in 1980 to 3662 in 2007, while licensing of new technologies increased almost five-fold between 1991 and 2007. Annual licensing revenue generated by US universities rose from about $160 million in 1991 to $1.8 billion in 2007. In 2007 a total of 555 university-based startup companies were launched, while 6321 new firms based on university-owned intellectual property were created between 1980 and 2007. This pattern in the USA is part of an international phenomenon, with substantial increases in patenting, licensing, and startup creation reported in Europe, Australia, Canada and elsewhere (Wright et al., 2007). Examples of key technologies transferred from universities to firms include the famous Boyer–Cohen ‘gene-splicing’ technique that launched the biotechnology industry, diagnostic tests for breast cancer and osteoporosis, Internet search engines (e.g. Google), music synthesizers, computer-aided design (CAD) and green technologies. TTOs constitute an ‘intermediary’ between suppliers of innovations (academic scientists) and those who can potentially commercialize these innovations: firms, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. TTOs facilitate commercial knowledge transfers of intellectual property resulting from university research through licensing to existing firms or the establishment of startup companies launched to commercialize inventions. The...
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