Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this phenomenon is the search for durable research results and policy prescriptions when there is so much diversity across countries. The risk is that, while presuambly everyone/everywhere is in favour of more innovation and the ability of universities to contribute to this effort, being overly Bayh-Dole-centric may mask the fact that other countries arrange the relationship between government funding, university research and commercialization in materially different ways.
This tension between the search for durable findings amidst the swirl of national diversity came to mind in reading two accounts of a recent article by Audretsch and Aldridge, "Does Policy Influence the Commercialization Route: Evidence from National Institute of Health Funded Scientists," Research Policy June 2010. The two reports are "Audretsch on the Results of the University Research" (Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, June 17, 2010) here and "Indiana-U Study Suggests TTO Undercounts Start-Up Activity" (The TechTransfer Blog, June 23, 2010) here (sorry, but when the online service wants to charge $31.50 for a copy of the 6-page article, I will limit myself to these reports).
1. 70% assigned their patents to their respective TTOs for further commercialization;2. 30% elected not to assign at least some of their patents to the TTOs, preferring to seek to commercialize their inventions through so-called "back door" means.3. As a result, "[s]cientists choosing the backdoor route for commercialization, by not assigning patents to their univeristy to commercialize research, tend to rely on the commercialization mode of starting a new firm ... By contrast, scientists who select the TTO route by assigning their patents to the university tend to rely on the commercialization mode of licensing."4. Moreover, scientists who choose the backdoor route are more likely to have their work cited in subsequent patent applications, suggesting that perhaps the backdoor route is itself attracting a "better" type of research result than are the TTOs.
5. In any event, TTO data materially understates the commercial activity following out of university research and the link between entrepeneurship and the fruits of government-funded science need to be better understood.