The Knowledge Filter and Economic Growth: The Role of Scientist Entrepreneurship

67 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2009 Last revised: 29 Oct 2015

See all articles by David B. Audretsch

David B. Audretsch

Indiana University - Institute for Development Strategies; King Saud University; WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management; Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

T. Taylor Aldridge

Independent

Alexander Oettl

Georgia Institute of Technology - Strategic Management Area

Date Written: March 29, 2006

Abstract

This study examines the prevalence and determinants of the commercialization of research by the top twenty percent of university scientists funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Because the two publicly available modes of scientist commercialization - patents and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants - do not cover the full spectrum of commercializing activities undertaken by university scientists, the study also includes two additional measures obtained from detailed scientist interviews: licensing of intellectual property and starting a new firm. These measures are used to assess both the prevalence and determinants of scientist commercialization of research. In particular, two distinct routes for commercializing scientist research are identified, the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) route and the entrepreneurial route, which does not involve assigning a patent to the university. This study in no way provides an assessment or judgment about the efficacy of the TTO. Rather, this study highlights the extent to which additional commercialization of research takes place, suggesting that the contribution of universities to U.S. innovation and ultimately economic growth may be greater than had previously been believed. Specific empirical findings suggest that:

Scientists receiving funding from the National Cancer Institute exhibit a robust propensity to commercialize their research. However, the prevalence of commercialization depends highly upon the actual mode of commercialization. Some modes of commercialization, such as patents, are more prevalent, while other modes, such as funding by the SBIR program are rarely used.

Scientist entrepreneurship is the sleeping giant of commercializing university research. More than one in four patenting NCI scientists have started a new firm.

Two paths for commercialization of scientist research are identified - the TTO route and the entrepreneurial route. Scientists who select the TTO route by commercializing their research through assigning all patents to their university TTO account for 70 percent of NCI patenting scientists. Scientists who choose the entrepreneurial route to commercialize their research, in that they do not assign patents to their university TTO, comprise 30 percent of patenting NCI scientists.

Social capital enhances the propensity for scientists to commercialize their research. The impact of social capital is particularly high for the commercialization mode of scientist entrepreneurship.

For scientists who perceive that they are helped by their Technology Transfer Office, licensing is the most prevalent mode of commercialization. For scientists who perceive that they are not helped by their Technology Transfer Office, entrepreneurship emergences as a much more important mode of commercialization.

Scientists choosing the entrepreneurial route to commercialize their research, by not assigning patents to their university to commercialize research, tend to rely on the commercialization mode of entrepreneurship. By contrast, scientists who select the TTO route by assigning their patents to the university tend to rely on the commercialization mode of licensing.

Keywords: research, sbir, scientist, entrepreneur

Suggested Citation

Audretsch, David B. and Aldridge, T. Taylor and Oettl, Alexander, The Knowledge Filter and Economic Growth: The Role of Scientist Entrepreneurship (March 29, 2006). Kauffman Foundation Large Research Projects Research, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1456458 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1456458

David B. Audretsch (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Institute for Development Strategies ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-855-6766 (Phone)
812-855-0184 (Fax)

King Saud University ( email )

P.O. Box 2460
Riyadh, 11451
Saudi Arabia

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management ( email )

Burgplatz 2
Vallendar, 56179
Germany

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

T. Taylor Aldridge

Independent ( email )

Alexander Oettl

Georgia Institute of Technology - Strategic Management Area ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

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