Tacit Knowledge and University-Industry Technology Transfer
Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (2019, Forthcoming)
21 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2019
Date Written: 2019
Traditional conceptions of university-industry technology transfer typically focus on patenting and licensing of academic inventions. However, effective technology transfer often requires significant knowledge exchange between academic and commercial entities in parallel to patent licensing. Although patents on university technologies nominally disclose those inventions, a significant amount of knowledge related to practicing and commercializing them remains tacit or uncodified, residing in the mind of the faculty inventor. This chapter explores the nature of tacit knowledge and mechanisms for transferring it. It notes that the “tacit dimension” of university inventions can be quite high given the embryonic nature of such technologies. It further reveals that human and institutional connections play a critical role in transferring tacit knowledge between universities and commercial firms. In particular, networks, consulting engagements, sponsored research, proof of concept centers and incubators, and university spinoffs facilitate direct interactions between academic and commercial entities, thus promoting tacit knowledge exchange.
Keywords: technology transfer, tacit knowledge, patents, networks, sponsored research, spinoffs
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