Transferring Innovation

58 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2009 Last revised: 18 Oct 2013

See all articles by Jay P. Kesan

Jay P. Kesan

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: April 2, 2009


This work analyzes the extensive organizational and performance-related information submitted in annual reports from 1996-2003 by ninety-four universities' technology transfer offices (TTOs) to the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).

My analysis shows that university technology transfer activities continue to be predominantly patent-centric and revenue-driven with a single-minded focus on generating licensing income and obtaining reimbursement for legal expenses. University technology transfer activities do not extend far beyond this narrow focus; commercialization activities (e.g., number of start-up companies) and strategies to transfer innovation, more broadly, do not figure prominently. In fact, universities do not engage in a broad range of activities that might result successfully in a transfer of university-originating innovation to different sectors in society.

In this work, I urge that universities must go beyond generating revenue and actively pursue entrepreneurial and commercialization activities, and readily embrace alternative technology transfer methods, such as open collaborations, free participant use agreements, and royalty-free licensing. Such steps would likely result in the adoption and dissemination throughout society of university-originating innovations. In order to embrace this comprehensive approach to transferring innovation, university TTOs need to substantively broaden their business models and restructure themselves within the university hierarchy so that the structural incentives that are implemented are compatible with a broader vision of technology transfer.

Keywords: Technology, Transfor, Patent, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Universities, Bayh-Dole

Suggested Citation

Kesan, Jay P., Transferring Innovation (April 2, 2009). Fordham Law Review, Symposium Issue, Vol. 77, No. 5, April 2009, U Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE09-011, Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 08-25 , Available at SSRN:

Jay P. Kesan (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-333-7887 (Phone)
217-244-1478 (Fax)


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