Wednesday 30 March 2011

Waking the sleeping giant

Dr Roya Ghafele (University of Oxford), a one-time member of the IP Finance team and a respected commentator on a variety of issues involving the interface of IP legal issues with the so-called real world, writes to tell us that she has recently recently completed some analysis on the means to finance university research, "Financing University Research Waking a Sleeping Giant", which she thought might be of interest to readers of the blog.

Roya's paper discusses the "Third Way", about which she has this to say:
"The ‘Third Way’ of university research commercialization focuses on systemic change, rather than on single stakeholder intervention. It reflects a third generation of innovation policies that focuses on training, awareness raising and the leverage of cluster effects, rather than the development of physical infrastructure (i.e. science parks).

This is a unique approach that outperforms existing best practice in many ways; i.e. it focuses on the leverage of network effects among the various academic institutions, rather than repeating the traditional ‘one university – one commercialization’ approach.

The ‘Third Way’ also outperforms existing best practices by adopting latest trends in IP management , such as online trading, perceiving IP as financial asset, leveraging open innovation for improving patent quality.

Organizational values, structures & procedures of various actors (business, academia, government) are recognized and different institutional cultures are sought to be overcome through boundary spanning.

The competing demands and interests of business & academia are reflected through the introduction of ‘social responsible university research commercialization’, as currently undertaken by U.C. Berkeley".
You can view the analysis in the form of PowerPoint slides here.

1 comment:

Michael F. Martin said...

Roya is a visionary, and her blog posts here are missed.

One comment on the presentation, however: There is no doubt that clear ownership is required for any deal over IP rights, and the motivation for "vesting IP ownership the university" is therefore clear. What is elided is very important.

People make inventions, not corporations or universities. And if title vests in a corporation or university, then it must be the result of a valid contract. For a contract to be valid, there must be consideration.

What is the consideration for university inventors in assigning title? Many universities take the position that it is the same as the consideration paid inventors at corporations -- i.e., their paycheck.

But inventors at for-profit corporations have assurances that university inventors do not -- a for-profit corporation has an almost unmitigated imperative from its shareholders to commercialize new technology.

Do university inventors get a reciprocal right in exchange for their comparative loss of the assurance that the university will diligently seek to commercialize their invention?