The way in which universities and public research institutions engage with business to take science from the lab to the market is rapidly evolving. This OECD publication looks closely at this evolution and provides a comprehensive review of government and institutional level policies aimed at enhancing the transfer, exploitation and commercialisation of public research results. The report also compares performance in OECD countries, universities and public research institutions using both traditional and new indicators.
Main findings include:
- Transfer and commercialisation policies need to be adapted to the specific public research and economic environments of countries and even regions.
- Maintaining excellence in research is important; without good research there is little to transfer and to commercialise.
- New strategies to link teaching, research and commercialisation, such as mentoring student start-ups, should continue to be explored.
- Between 2006 and 2010, the annual growth rate in patent applications by universities in OECD countries fell from 11.8% to 1.3%. PRIs even experienced negative growth of -1.3% over the same period, compared to +5.3% growth between 2001 and 2005.
- Patenting remains important but the amount of knowledge exchanged with business and income generated from collaborative/contractual research and public-private partnerships is far more significant than revenue from patent monetisation.
- Policy makers should consider focusing as much on student entrepreneurs as on academic researchers.
- Policies and incentives should not focus exclusively on the physical and natural sciences. Transferring results from research in the social sciences and humanities can also generate new ideas and opportunities for business.
- New indicators for measuring knowledge transfer, exploitation and commercialisation are important to accurately measure performance and develop better policies.
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