Arundel, A and Bordoy, C, Developing internationally comparable indicators for the commercialization of publically-funded research, Developing internationally comparable indicators for the commercialization of publically-funded research, United Nations University, Maastricht, The Netherlands, pp. 1-18. (2008) [Report]
Over the past decade, innovation policy in many OECD countries has stressed the
need to improve the commercialization of research results from ‘public science’
institutions such as universities and government research institutes. Within Europe, this policy focus is partly due to a perception that Europe has failed to benefit from its substantial investments in public research, in contrast to the American experience, where university research results are believed to lie behind the creation of several globally competitive firms and blockbuster products ranging from pharmaceuticals to computer hardware and software. Another measure of American success in commercializing public science is the substantial licensing income that universities such as Stanford, Columbia, MIT and the University of Florida have earned from patenting their inventions.
The policy discussion in Europe frequently refers to a ‘European Paradox’ of high public expenditure on research with few visible commercial benefits. A long-standing explanation for the paradox is a failure of public science institutes in Europe to actively commercialize their discoveries (EC, 1995). The causes of this failure have been linked in policy documents to a wide range of factors, including a lack of entrepreneurial spirit among scientists, barriers to the ability of public sector scientists to move to the private sector on a temporary basis to develop their discoveries, and to poor intellectual property rights for university inventions. Alternative explanations of the European Paradox, based on differences in the commercial potential of public research conducted in Europe versus the United States (Dosi et al, 2005), have not attracted much attention in the policy community.
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