Patents Exploited through Spin-off Formation and Licensing to Established Companies: One University's Decision Making Process
The commercialisation of university patents via spin-off formations or licensing to established companies are the common methods adopted by universities to exploit their patents. This paper looks very closely on who was involved and how the decision was made by one university to patent and to exploit its portfolio of patents.
This paper is based on a case study of a university in Scotland. Two types of patents were selected; those that exploited through spin-offs and another that used licensing to established companies. A total of 12 patents were selected and in-depth interviews were conducted.
The findings showed that, similar actors were involved in the decision to patent for both types of patents. The actors involved were inventors, industry and the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or decisions were made between two parties of these three above. However, the decisions to commercialise via spin-off formation were influenced by factors such as how they recognised opportunities of their technologies through industrial working experiences and motivation factor to see their inventions being exploited. On the other hand, for patents that were licensed to established companies, the decisions either came from the save three actors above or through joint decisions between them. The significant difference is the patents that were exploited via licensing to established companies, the inventors did not have the motivation to be an entrepreneur, and were not willing to take risks.
Studying and understanding the decision making process in commercialisation of university patents through spin-off formations and through licensing to established companies will enhance the roles of university TTOs. The TTO should help inventors whose technologies have potential but did not have the motivation to undertake their commercialisation by themselves.
Keywords: Spin-offs, Licensing, Academic Entrepreneur, The Decision Making Process, University Patents
Dr. Kamariah Ismail
Lecturer, Management Department
Wan Zaidi Wan Omar
Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Dr. Izaidin Abd. Majid
Lecturer, Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka