Knowledge transfer from academia to industry through patenting and licensing: Rhetoric and reality.

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This chapter addresses one aspect of the question of the actual versus desirable
sociopolitical organization of academic science in modern societies--the aspect
of patenting and licensing activities of universities. Academic patenting and
licensing activities have massively increased since the 1980s in the United States
and the 1990s in Europe. As this trend is clearly impacting the dissemination of
and access to academic knowledge, the question arises whether the current encouragement
of academic patenting and licensing is indeed generating the main
benefit that policy makers at both the university and the government level claim it
is achieving, namely, the commercial development of academic knowledge.This
chapter will discuss empirical evidence on the practical effects of the current trend
as well as on the role of university patents and licenses in the process of academiato-
industry knowledge transfer. As we shall see, academic patenting and licensing
are much less critical for commercialization of academic knowledge than is claimed.
The "prevailing wisdom"--that the key to promoting knowledge transfer is academic patenting and licensing--fails to recognize the undesirable and paradoxical consequences of these activities. This chapter argues that current policy making is based on empirically weak premises and concludes with suggestions to improve policy making in this field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Commodification of Academic Research: Science and the modern university
EditorsHans Radder
PublisherPittsburgh University Press
Number of pages360
ISBN (Print)978-0-8229-4396-9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010

Bibliographical note

Hans Radder


  • academia
  • knowledge transfer
  • patent policy
  • licensing policy


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