Should Universities Try to Capture More Value from Their Research?

A pair of newly published research papers co-authored by Wharton management professor David H. Hsu benchmark and explore commercialization drivers of academic science. The papers find that university research has produced pathbreaking innovations across many disciplines, many of which have been commercialized successfully. Yet, on average, universities capture 16% of the value they help create through licensing revenues or equity stakes in the startups their research spawns. Furthermore, some researchers and universities are much better able to commercialize their discoveries compared to others, even holding constant the discovery itself.

The first research paper, which Hsu wrote with Po-Hsuan Hsu, Tong Zhou and Arvids A. Ziedonis, is titled “Benchmarking U.S. University Patent Value and Commercialization Efforts: A New Approach” and was published this month in Research Policy. The second paper, “Revisiting the Entrepreneurial Commercialization of Academic Science: Evidence from ‘Twin’ Discoveries,” co-authored with Matt Marx, is forthcoming in Management Science.

The results suggest that universities with policies and resources devoted to commercialization efforts, aided by academic staff with commercialization experience and which are more interdisciplinary, are much more successful at translating research for commercial outcomes. Consequently, Hsu and his co-authors make a case for universities to take a closer look at the value they are extracting by commercializing their patents and intellectual property. Read More >>

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