Tech Transfer Offices Only "Tip of the Iceberg"
A new report examining the commercial activity resulting from academic research shows that a large number of scientists bypass university patent and licensing offices. The study, conducted by David Audretsch and Taylor Aldridge of Indiana University, also shows that those who bypass the tech transfer offices (TTO) are more likely to produce startup companies.
Thirty-percent of the scientists studied chose a "backdoor route" to commercialization, not assigning patents to their TTO. Those scientists were more likely to start new firms rather than license their research. They were also more likely to 'have their work cited in subsequent patent applications -- suggesting that "those innovations with a potentially greater value are less likely to be commercialized through the technology transfer office."'
The take home message for policymakers who want to understand the link between government-funded research and entrepreneurship is to watch what scientists do, not just what they license.