Research universities with an organizational climate that actively supports commercialization and encourages interdisciplinary collaboration are more likely to produce invention disclosures and patent applications, according to a study by Emily Hunter, PhD, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. The study was published in the Journal of Research Policy.
“University-based inventors were more likely to generate more early-stage commercialization when they perceived an atmosphere that was supportive of commercialization and provided opportunities for collaboration which spanned the research boundaries of academic disciplines,” Hunter says. “We also found that a good organizational climate is more readily influenced by management than by other environmental factors such as the availability of venture capital.”
The study focused on Engineering Research Centers (ERC), which were formed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1985 to support commercialization. Between 1985 and 2006, the NSF allocated $57 million to research programs at 41 ERCs, which produced 1,431 invention disclosures and 528 patents. Because of their unique organizational structure and track record, ERCs promote highly creative multidisciplinary research and emphasize commercial applications and technical prototypes. “Commercialization was affected by how often a researcher’s department chair and other departmental members were involved in commercialization activities,” Hunter says. Researchers who perceived support from their laboratory were often more likely to engage in such activities, even if commercialization had not been their priority before joining the ERC.
The study also found that, when an ERC’s TTO was viewed as customer-friendly, researchers were more likely to pursue invention disclosure and patents. Furthermore, when a TTO is organized, well-funded, and knowledgeable, it is better able to process paperwork and pursue commercialization. “Many of our interviewees emphasized the dramatic impact that an effective TTO can have on the commercialization process,” Hunter says.
Source: Science Daily