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Technology selection and marketing activities in higher education patenting and technology transfer

Kay L McLennan, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Technology transfer between academic institutions and private industry represents an important means for growth in the economy as well as an important and growing revenue stream for universities. Still, as a relatively new phenomenon in the United States (mainly dating back to the 1980 passage of the Bayh-Dole Act) many questions remain concerning the optimal level of institutional support to be provided by university offices of technology transfer. This study investigated marketing practices employed by successful (in terms of licensing revenues earned) institutional offices of technology transfer. In addition, this study investigated decision-making about which new technology to patent and whether profitability and benefit to humanity factored into the decisions. ^ The directors (or a director's designee) of institutional offices of technology transfer were interviewed via semi-structured interviews, and the common factors related to technology transfer success were used to generate a comparative perspective on academic technology transfer. In particular, it was discovered that the formulas for the faculty share of royalty income varied widely and highly successful institutions had generous royalty sharing formulas. Also, while the combined list of marketing services offered by institutional offices of technology transfer is impressive, most of the institutions surveyed were actively working to expand their marketing efforts. ^ When considering new inventions or technology for patenting, an overwhelming majority of the top technology transfer institutions cited commercial potential as the main criteria. Further, commercial potential was considered analogous to public benefit. As a related finding, the mission of making technologies available to society was growing in importance. ^ In the area of innovations, the use of collaboration or partnerships to bundle intellectual property for the purposes of creating more salable or valuable technology was becoming more widely practiced. ^ Finally, as evidenced by their contacts with the institutional offices of technology transfer, potential new faculty hires were becoming increasingly interested in factoring in institutional support for technology transfer in advance of accepting a new academic position. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

McLennan, Kay L, "Technology selection and marketing activities in higher education patenting and technology transfer" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3116595.