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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|16800||2003||20 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Research Policy, Volume 32, Issue 4, April 2003, Pages 639–658
What national policies are most efficient in promoting the commercialization of university-generated knowledge? We address this question by characterizing and evaluating the policy pursued in Sweden and the US, two countries that put a great deal of resources into university R&D, but follow very different models for commercialization. Despite a leading academic record, there is an impression of laggard rates of commercialization of academic research results in Sweden. Although there exist no micro data to evaluate this impression, we argue that it is likely to be true in part due to the top-down nature of Swedish policies aimed at commercializing these innovations as well as an academic environment that discourages academics from actively participating in the commercialization of their ideas. This sits in stark contrast to a US institutional setting characterized by competition between universities for research funds and research personnel, which in turn has led to significant academic freedoms to interact with industry, including significant involvement in new firms.
Today, the commercialization of university-generated knowledge looms large in the public discussion. This is natural given the recent scientification of technology in key industries. Since a large share of the production of scientific results takes place at universities, the interface between universities and industry has come into focus. Policymakers in many developed countries have responded by erecting extensive infrastructures intended to facilitate the commercialization of scientific research output. This paper identifies two central strategies, and the incentive structures that they create. We then consider which set of policies are most effective. Following Nelson and Rosenberg’s (1993) methodology for comparing national innovation systems, we compare subsets of the US and Swedish innovation systems that affect the commercialization of university technology. As this methodology does not provide a means to evaluate the efficiency of different national policies, our study is highly exploratory and our conclusions only suggestive. However, this caveat does not make such studies less urgent. In this study, we will evaluate two national policies towards the commercialization of university intellectual property, namely, the United States and Sweden. The US model is very much focused on creating (economic) incentives for universities to commercialize their research output and then allowing them to experiment to find the best means by which to do that. In contrast, the Swedish model, which is similar to most European Union countries’ models in some respects, is very much an attempt by the government to directly create mechanisms that facilitate commercialization. Indeed, our findings are echoed in the results of parallel research conducted by Gittelman (2002), who reaches conclusions similar to our own. Measured by per capita publication measures, Sweden is an academic powerhouse. In some subfields, this translates into significant amounts of academic output on absolute levels as well. Because of data constraints, it is difficult to detect transfer of university inventions in Sweden. Although it is unclear if this reflects a lack of transfer in general or simply a data problem, it is evident that Sweden’s transfer performance through one mechanism, the small start-up firm, is weak. An important clue to this puzzle comes from a growing body of evidence that the role of academics in commercializing their discoveries is critical. This paper compares the different incentive structures that academic researchers face in the United States and Sweden and demonstrates that in Sweden academics face strong disincentives to take the time away from their academic pursuits to facilitate knowledge transfer to the commercial sector. This problem is likely to be especially important when the optimal mode of transfer is through new start-up firms. We do not claim that there is conclusive evidence that the Swedish technology transfer programs are a failure. However, in light of our analysis we believe that it is unlikely that Sweden is harvesting the full commercial potential of its research output as successfully as the US. Surprisingly, we find suggestive evidence that the American university system, whereby intellectual property is commonly awarded to universities, is more effective in facilitating the commercialization than the Swedish system in which rights are awarded directly to the inventor. That is, in order to understand the incentives created by intellectual property rights, it is imperative to understand the larger institutional context. It is important at this early stage to define the domain of our analysis. There are a plethora of mechanisms for technology transfer (Sandelin, 2001). Graduate students regularly carry knowledge from the ivory tower into other sectors. Publications and conferences permit industry to monitor and exploit new knowledge produced at universities. Faculty consulting leads directly to the transfer of knowledge. Whereas visiting scholars have long allowed academics from different institutions to exchange knowledge, more recent constructs such as industry affiliate programs, research collaborations and interdisciplinary research centers have brought industry representatives onto campus for similar purposes. Technology licensing is a mechanism that has expanded greatly in the US since the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. The analysis of all these mechanisms is well beyond the scope of this study. Instead, this analysis will focus on these mechanisms insofar as they facilitate the transfer of novel ideas over which intellectual property rights can be established. A further qualification is perhaps in order. In the exercise that follows, we attempt to establish that Sweden, a country with half the population of Greater Los Angeles, is unsuccessful in commercializing university technology due to an unfavourable incentive structure. We do this by comparing its relative performance with that of the United States. One might expect that a country so small cannot reasonably be expected to produce enough commercially valuable knowledge to have any substantial commercialization activity simply because the supply of ideas may be too low. We cannot directly evaluate the strength of this claim because it is unknown at what levels of academic output, as measured by publications, one might expect to see substantial levels of commercialization activity, even if we could agree on exactly what is meant by substantial. To deal with this challenge, we offer some evidence that academic output in commercially relevant fields such as biotechnology is large, even on an absolute scale. Second, as we argue later, we feel that it is likely that by correcting its incentives, Sweden could be reasonably expected to improve its performance in commercialization. Recent surveys of technology licensing offices (TLOs) in US universities have revealed an important finding in the American experience that may be directly relevant to the modest Swedish achievements in technology transfer: commercialization of university ideas generally requires the continuing involvement of academic inventors (Jensen and Thursby, 2001). In the US, the competitive nature of the university environment, along with legislation such as the Bayh-Dole Act, which gave universities title to innovations that took place inside their walls, have caused universities to adopt policies to encourage, or at least to permit, the continuing involvement of academic researchers, thus facilitating the transfer of ideas to the private sector. The Swedish experience is quite different. The Swedish government has invested lavishly in university research that has, in turn, produced impressive academic results. At the same time, it has enacted an extensive set of policies to facilitate the transfer of these results to the commercial sector. Unfortunately, this effort has largely failed to create incentives for academics to remain involved in the commercialization of their ideas. Not only have Swedish academics historically faced limited potential upside gains to entrepreneurial ventures, but the policies have not succeeded in limiting the downside risks vis-à-vis the inventors’ academic careers. A key problem has been the failure to provide universities with incentives to encourage commercialization of academics’ ideas. It should be understood that we are not recommending, in what follows, that Swedish universities treat American arrangements as a role model, especially insofar as that model implies the suppression of some traditional academic norms. Rather, we invoke the American experience for the insights that it may provide for Sweden’s achievements in transferring technology from its universities into various sectors of the economy. We also believe that there are many similarities between the Swedish university system and those of continental Europe, inasmuch as their universities are essentially parts of larger national bureaucracies and therefore compete with one another to only a rather modest degree. We suggest, then, that the conclusions that we draw from our analysis may also be applicable, at least in part, in a larger European context. The paper proceeds as follows. In Section 2, we review mechanisms commonly used in technology transfer. In Section 3, we examine incentives to exploit these mechanisms in the US and in Section 4, we repeat the exercise for Sweden. Section 5 compares the rate and success of commercialization in both countries. Section 6 examines possible differences in the supply of ideas. Section 7 frames the results in a larger institutional setting and Section 8 concludes.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Sweden is a country putting a great deal of resources into R&D; R&D spending relative to GDP has been the highest in the world for more than a decade. On per capita levels, the country also hosts several world-leading firms with a high R&D intensity, it holds a world class position in terms of publication rates in leading academic journals, and its government invests massively, given Sweden’s size, in the building of organizations to bridge the gap between university research and industry. In some key fields, Sweden is producing large absolute amounts of scientific output as well. At the same time, incentives for academics to establish intellectual property rights and pursue commercialization of their technologies are weak. Although the general performance of technology transfer in Sweden is unknown, it is clear that the performance of its academic-based start-ups is weak. The US picture, on the other hand, is quite different. This study attributes this difference to the distinct policies pursued by Sweden and the United States. The Swedish government has pursued a portfolio of policies aimed at directing funds at entrepreneurial activities in general, and specifically at the commercialization of academic research output. These policies have been largely ineffective due to a lack of incentives for academic researchers to become involved in the commercialization of their ideas. This, in turn, has likely dampened the incentives for academics to pursue commercially relevant areas of research and/or exploit commercially relevant applications of generic knowledge. The environment created by the Swedes sits in stark contrast to that in the US. In the US, the emergence of the flexibility needed to exploit commercially valuable research output is due to the relative lack of regulation as well as the intensive competition for research funds by researchers and research talent by universities. In particular, academics in the US are relatively free to respond to market incentives for the commercialization of their ideas. By contrast, in Sweden, researchers risk being penalized for attempting to commercialize their ideas. These results are likely to be widespread throughout Europe. For example, Gittelman (2002) suggests that poor performance in the commercialization of university biotechnology results in France is due to lack of incentives for French scientists to get involved in the commercialization process. We have also pointed out that universities have strong influence on academics extra-curricular activities. When policies are top-down, the desire of universities to implement them may vary, especially, as we have described before, since these universities face conflicting incentives. This has, in turn, affected academics’ incentives to pursue commercial opportunities. Not only has it dampened financial incentives, especially because of larger downside risk, but it has also created de facto professional penalties for engaging in commercializing activities. Therefore, a policy aimed at encouraging the commercialization of intellectual property should recognize that universities have the ability to restrict the pursuit by their faculty of commercialization opportunities, and policies directing them to encourage such activities are likely to fail if they are unlikely to gain from such pursuits. Interestingly, putting property rights in the hands of the inventor does not automatically create the best incentives for commercialization. To facilitate involvement in commercialization activities, not only must an academic inventor face strong incentives in the market for technology, but she must also not face strong disincentives in her university environment. The system works better when incentives are aligned. Because of lack of data, we were only able to determine that Sweden has performed poorly in academic entrepreneurship. We have discussed conditions where this shortcoming is significant and with the likely under-harvesting of research results in the field of biotechnology. The exploration of the impact of the Swedish (indeed European) incentive structure on other fields remains an open question. Hence, even if the goal of a policy is to facilitate the commercialization of academic ideas, one cannot draw the conclusion that, based on US experience, property rights should be handed over to the university. First, awarding property rights to universities works in the US because universities are largely autonomous, competitive institutions. In Sweden, however, universities are state-owned bureaucracies. Further study is needed to determine if, after adopting this policy, university bureaucrats would face strong enough incentives to develop offices similar to US TLOs. Second, even if such a policy worked, it is unclear if the benefits would be widespread enough to offset the costs in terms of the sacrifice of academic norms.