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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Essays on University Technology Management

  • Author(s): Drivas, Kyriakos
  • Advisor(s): Wright, Brian Davern
  • et al.

In an era where ties between academia and industry have received considerable attention both in the social sciences literature and at the policy level, research is warranted to explore the relationship between these two institutions. In particular, the mechanisms where universities and corporations cooperate in terms of research needs to be examined given the increasingly important role of universities on innovation. By exploring this relationship, we can also understand the implication for all actors directly or indirectly affected by university research. The objective of this dissertation is to shed light on the important relationship between academia and industry under the lens of innovation and explore the ramifications for all the groups involved.

The first chapter tries to assess the role of exclusive licensing in diffusion of academic patented inventions. We employ a unique dataset of invention disclosures, and their associated patenting and licensing activity, by the University of California Office of Technology Transfer The metric for follow-on research employed is the patent citations the academic patent receives. This projects tests two long standing hypotheses/beliefs that are at the core of the discussion regarding the management of academic technologies. Namely, whether exclusive licensing motivates licensees to undertake research on the academic patent and whether exclusive licensing discourages non-licensees to use the knowledge embedded in the academic patent. Results show that exclusive licensing increases licensee citations regardless of the technology field; in addition start-up licensees conduct more follow-on research than established firms licensees implying the involvement of the primary inventor in the start-up. Finally licensees acquire patents mainly in the same narrow technology field as the academic patent they build on. Moreover, we find that exclusive licensing increases non-licensee citations and therefore we conclude that this type of technology transfer functions as a signal to other firms rather as a discouraging factor. This signal may be of the quality of the patent and/or information that a competitor is working on a new research path and therefore other firms should also pursue this research agenda; we provide evidence to support the signaling explanation. We find that the increase of non-licensee citations is more prevalent for computers, communications, electronics and engineering related patents while we also find that non-licensees "invent around" the academic patent or use it in entirely different technology fields.

In the second chapter, we try to explore the strategic behavior by the licensee to delay innovation output. A licensee may have an incentive to delay innovation output building on the invention licensed by the university to avoid paying royalty fees to the licensor (i.e. to the academic institution). By employing access to the same dataset as in the first chapter, we explore whether licensee citations increase around expiration of the licensed patent. Moreover, we test recent theoretical findings on when it is more likely for licensees to delay innovation. In particular we examine whether low profitability inventions and broad scope patents are more likely to be associated with delays. The challenge is to approximate patent profitability and scope with patent characteristics. We find that patents of low quality (long prosecution time) and patent of broad scope (large number of International Patent Classifications) to be associated with significantly greater delays of licensee citations.

In the last chapter, we descriptively examine whether the type of research sponsor is associated with the rate of invention disclosure, the patenting rate, the likelihood and type of license. In a period where corporations sign multi-million research deals with universities, scholars have raised concerns with regards to the effect of business funding on the research focus and the overall mission of universities. Having access to this unique dataset, we offer the first empirical insight on the relationship between the type of the research sponsor and important outcomes of academic technology management such as patenting and licensing. We find that any differences associated with corporate funded and government funded inventions to be attributed to the cases where the research sponsor becomes the licensee in the case of business funded projects.

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