Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The IP Myth

The following quotes are from Elizabeth Garnsey in 2007, suggesting IP management as research policy for universities was based on a myth, used too-hopefully by policy makers in need of financial and economic solutions in the 1980s and 1909s.

“A consensus of this kind emerges among practitioners when it provides a welcome message with an apparent though partial basis in facts and, above all, offers relatively simple solutions to complex problems.

The idea of the entrepreneurial university suggested that a focus on patentable research and commercialisation might solve pressing problems facing policy makers. The message that universities should transform themselves into entrepreneurial sources of intellectual property pointed to a new source of funding … The idea that university spinoff companies could be a basis for renewal of economies…was particularly welcome to policy makers pinning their hopes on the new knowledge economy as the solution to the threat of competition from globalization.

A focus on managing university IP has the advantage for policy makers of avoiding confrontation with traditional ways of organising the faculties…which would arouse more broadly based opposition.

The major changes in academic culture and teaching structure required to move European universities in this [entrepreneurial] direction would be a much greater challenge to policy than charging technology transfer offices with managing university-sourced IP and offering optional classes in entrepreneurship.

But in most sectors, companies are not sufficiently certain that major revenues will result from collaboration to pay license fees and negotiate university IP obstacles … these companies do not buy in to the new consentual vision, and their advocates are actively challenging this vision.

The question that arises is whether prescribing the nature of the university’s entrepreneurial role and advocating IP management are likely to promote the autonomy and ingenuity of innovators… Does this approach recognise that genuine conflicts of interest between science and commerce may persist?

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