Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Industry-Sponsored Academic Inventions Spur Increased Innovation

Published: Monday, March 24, 2014
Last Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Analysis questions assumption that corporate support skews science toward inventions that are less useful than those funded by the government or non-profit organizations.

Industry-sponsored, academic research leads to innovative patents and licenses, says a new analysis led by Brian Wright, University of California, Berkeley professor of agricultural and resource economics.

The analysis, based on a study of two decades of records from the University of California system, is in today's science journal Nature.

The National Science Foundation's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences funded the study. "There are two potential interpretations of the report," said Joshua Rosenbloom, program director for Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP). "One is optimistic. Corporate funding leads to research that is more likely to be commercialized and this greater focus is good.

"The second reading is that corporate funding shifts the focus of research away from basic science," added Rosenbloom.

During the last few decades, the share of gross domestic product supporting research and development has been stable, but the corporate share has increased substantially. "This may reflect a shift in emphasis away from basic science discoveries that provide a basis for future commercialization," Rosenbloom said.

SciSIP supports interdisciplinary social science research that builds an evidence base for informed policy choices and contributes to a better understanding of the interactions between science, technology and innovation.

The commentary's authors analyzed 12,516 inventions and related licenses at nine University of California campuses and three associated national laboratories. The inventions were disclosed between 1990 and 2005, and licensing activity was analyzed through 2010. Of the inventions, nearly 1,500 were supported at least partly by private industry.

The analysis found that industry-funded inventions yielded patents and licenses more frequently than federally sponsored ones, with results consistent across technical fields. The researchers also found that industry-sponsored inventions were more highly cited in subsequent patent applications--known as "forward citations"--the most widely used marker of a patent's quality and importance. Each corporate-sponsored invention generated an average of 12.8 forward citations compared with 5.6 for federally sponsored inventions.

"This runs counter to the expectation that corporate-sponsored inventions have narrow applications, and so create ... few benefits for others," the authors wrote.

Locking up inventions for profit?
Because corporations usually get first crack at negotiating licenses to the inventions they sponsor, there is an assumption that corporations tie up innovative discoveries in a way that restricts access to a broader audience.

However, the intellectual property data analyzed by the authors indicate that industry has not been more likely than federally sponsored research to tie up research discoveries in exclusive licenses. Overall, corporate-funded inventions were licensed exclusively 74 percent of the time, while federally funded inventions were licensed exclusively 76 percent of the time. Notably, among the corporate-funded inventions with exclusive licenses, half seemed to go to third parties and not the sponsor.

"We didn't expect these results," said Wright. "We thought companies would be interested in applied research that was closer to being products, and thus more likely to be licensed exclusively and less cited than federally funded counterparts, but that did not turn out to be the case."

The authors acknowledged that they might not have identified all third party licensees that were actually affiliated with the original corporate sponsor, but Wright said this does not affect the finding that licenses to corporate-funded inventions are not more likely to be exclusive.

"Industry-funded research need not be locked up by corporate sponsors if both the sponsored research office and the tech transfer office take care in protecting and marketing the results," said co-author Stephen Merrill, executive director of Science, Technology and Economic Policy at The National Academies.

Vigilance still needed
The authors of the new Nature paper said their findings should not be used to relax oversight over industry funding, particularly when it comes to trials of products rather than the invention disclosures covered in their analysis.

"The tobacco, food, pharmaceutical and other industries have been shown to manipulate research questions and public discourse for their benefit, and even to suppress unfavorable research," the study authors wrote.

The new analysis also covered only one university system, and it "may not be typical of all academia," said Wright. He added that the University of California system's strong reputation for basic research gives its tech transfer offices more pull when drawing up contracts.

During the 20-year period analyzed in the paper, University of California campuses accounted for up to 9 percent of total U.S. academic research expenditure, and it collectively obtained more issued patents than any other U.S. academic institution. Tech transfer offices at small universities may benefit by pooling resources to increase their negotiating power, said Wright.

The authors of the Nature paper concluded that while universities should remain vigilant when setting up contracts with corporations, "they should not assume companies are focused mainly on tying up intellectual property."

The other co-authors on the paper are Kyriakos Drivas, a postdoctoral research economist at the Agricultural University of Athens, and Zhen Lei, an assistant professor of energy and environmental economics at Pennsylvania State University.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,300+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,900+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Key Enzyme in Pierce’s Disease Grapevine Damage Uncovered
UC Davis plant scientists have identified an enzyme that appears to play a key role in the insect-transmitted bacterial infection of grapevines with Pierce’s disease, which annually costs California’s grape and wine industries more than $100 million.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Genome Sequencing May Save California's Legendary Sugar Pine
The genome of California’s legendary sugar pine, which naturalist John Muir declared to be “king of the conifers” more than a century ago, has been sequenced by a research team led by UC Davis scientists.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
UC Davis Cracks the Walnut Genome
Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have for the first time sequenced the genome of a commercial walnut variety.
Friday, December 11, 2015
New Organic Plant Breeding Effort Launched
A new effort to provide California growers with seeds for tomato, bean, pepper and other crop varieties that are specially bred for organic farming has been launched at UC Davis.
Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Crop Cure
Scientists in new center to use medical research techniques to help food crops withstand drought and climate change.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Sustaining Our Salad
Improving lettuce crops is the aim of a new, $4.5 million grant, awarded to University of California, Davis, researchers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
International Fruit Pest Targeted by Genomic Research
The spotted wing drosophila is itself being targeted, thanks to groundbreaking genome sequencing.
Friday, December 06, 2013
DNA Sequencing Lifts Veil on Wine’s Microbial Terroir
It’s widely accepted that terroir — the unique blend of a vineyard’s soils, water and climate — sculpts the flavor and quality of wine.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Grapevine Virus Screening Saves Napa-Sonoma $60M
Providing disease-free grapevines and rootstock to California’s famed North Coast wine region is money-wise to the tune of more than $60 million annually.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
New Cattle Virus Identified by Genome Sequencing
A new cow virus that causes neurologic symptoms reminiscent of mad cow disease has been identified and its genome sequenced by a team of researchers.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
More Accurate Model of Climate Change’s Effect on Soil
Scientists have developed a new computer model to measure global warming's effect in soil worldwide that accounts for how bacteria and fungi in soil control carbon.
Friday, August 02, 2013
Predicting how Insects, Plants Interact
Butterfly and moth larvae feeding on native plants will extend their diet to newly introduced non-native plants, but which ones?
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Gene Discovery May Halt Disease that Threatens Wheat
Researchers have identified a gene that enables resistance to a new race, or strain, of stem rust, a disease threatening global food security.
Monday, July 01, 2013
Reforms Could Boost Use of Land Conservation Banks
California legislators have enacted the state's first conservation banking law, based on a pioneering program launched 18 years ago.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Genome of Lotus May Hold Anti-Aging Secrets
The "sacred lotus" is believed to have a powerful genetic system that repairs genetic defects.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Scientific News
JPK NanoWizard® Applied to a Wide Range of Research
The NanoWizard® AFM from JPK is applied for interdisciplinary research at the University of South Australia for applications including smart wound healing and how plants can protect themselves from toxins.
Protein Boosts Rice Yield by 54%
Over-expression of a natural protein in rice plants led to a 54% increase in crop yield and 40% increase in nitrogen-use efficiency.
Soil Nitrogen Age Important for Precision Agriculture
Calculating the age of nitrogen in corn and soybean fields could lead to improved fertilizer application techniques.
Genome of 6000-Year-Old Barley Sequenced
Researchers have successfully sequenced the genome of Chalcolithic barley grains for the first time.
Flowers Arrange Themselves for Bees
Study suggests plants can maximise their chances of reproduction by taking advantage of how insects move when they gather nectar.
Improving Wheat Crops in the Field
Agrii, RAGT and the University of Nottingham are developing better disease management and yield production in wheat crops using ASD FieldSpec Handheld 2 portable spectroradiometers.
Unravelling the Roots of Insect’s Waterproof Coating
Researchers have identified the genes that control cuticular lipid production in Drosophila, by performing an RNAi screen and using Direct Analysis in Real Time and GC-MS.
Structural link to Brain Cell Death in Alzheimer's
Study reveals multiple new leads for pursuing potential Alzheimer's treatments
Disentangling the Plant Microbiome
Study says breeding plants, to feed a growing global population, with more beneficial bacteria is far from simple.
Cellular Origin of Skin Cancer Identified
Scientists have identified ‘cell of origin’ in the most common form of skin cancer, and followed the process that leads to tumour growth.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,300+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,900+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!