In the last few decades, the yearly number of new technological inventions that have emerged from the labs of companies and research institutions has drastically grown (e.g., Lissoni et al., 2008; OECD, 2012). However, new technology development by itself does not contribute to societal growth, unless technologies are then commercialised. Indeed, technologies that do not enter the market limit the organisations’ opportunities to generate new value, gain profits from their R&D efforts, and foster economic and social wealth creation (Ardito et al., 2015; Schuh and Drescher, 2014; Shane, 2002; Carayannis and Rakhmatullin, 2014). Technology commercialisation is, therefore, pivotal in today’s global economy.
In particular, the commercialisation of university technological inventions has become of foremost importance in the last few years (Grimpe and Hussinger, 2013; Shane, 2002). Notably, the results of university research are more and more deemed to create relevant market opportunities and play a key role within the national innovation processes. In this context, the commercialisation of university technological inventions has been identified as a major mechanism by which they can sustain market formation and improve global innovative performance (Henderson et al., 1998), hence shifting their traditional primary role from education providers and scientific knowledge creators towards a more complex “entrepreneurial” organisation (Etzkowitz et al., 2000; Philpott et al., 2011; Del Giudice et al., 2013). Accordingly, nowadays, universities tend to actively secure rents arising from their proprietary inventions and contribute to firms’ innovative activities by defining ad-hoc strategies to manage the deployment and commercialisation of their technical discoveries (Thursby et al., 2001).
According to the foregoing discussion, a first stream of the literature delves into the dynamics underlying the processes through which universities license or sell their inventions (i.e. the external technology commercialisation approach) (Grimpe and Hussinger, 2013; Shane, 2002; Nicotra et al., 2014). This line of inquiry discusses this strategy in order to understand how to reduce search and transaction costs by favouring the commercialisation of universities’ inventions, protect their intellectual property, implement the functions of technology commercialisation into universities’ strategies and routines, and unveil the contingencies of this specific strategy. In fact, more effort is needed to further comprehend how to overcome the impediments towards the adoption of an effective licensing/selling strategy for universities, such as misalignment of incentives, inappropriate staffing, researchers aversions to selling their inventions, and the differences characterising the environments, norms, and values of academic institutions and companies (e.g., Franco and Haase, 2015; Perkmann et al., 2013).
Differently, a second research stream aims at analysing the formation of university spin-offs and new ventures. Indeed, universities often tend to commercialise their technological inventions through ad hoc companies formed by researchers (Rasmussen et al., 2014; Swamidass, 2012). Nevertheless, a number of universities face relevant difficulties in creating successful spin-offs and gaining advantage from this technology commercialisation approach. Thereby, examining how the transition from the research university to the entrepreneurial one occurs it is relevant to understand how academic research enters the market and allows achieving returns from related inventive efforts (Van Burg et al., 2008; Carayannis et al., 2015). This corresponds to a more thorough comprehension of the interplay between the university, department, and inventor-level responsibilities in new ventures creation, the role of the technology transfer offices, the potential benefits of university science parks, the policy systems sustaining university spin-offs, and the factors required to sustain the growth of these new ventures (e.g., Philpott et al., 2011; Rasmussen et al., 2014).
However, despite the relevant role of the commercialisation of university technological inventions is nowadays well known and largely discussed in literature, relevant gaps still exist. Therefore, this special issue seeks to bring together high-quality research that furthers the understanding of the mechanisms and dynamics sustaining university technology commercialisation. Specifically, it encourages papers that examine novel phenomena, employing original methodologies, and offering interesting empirical insights and theoretical contribution to this research stream.
Suitable topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- University-industry relationships for technology commercialisation
- The role of intellectual property mechanisms in fostering university technology commercialisation
- If and how universities manage external technology commercialisation and spin-off creations simultaneously
- The characteristics of academic entrepreneurs
- Entrepreneurship and university technology transfer
- Linking the antecedents and outcomes of university technology commercialisation
- The role of universities' technology transfer offices in promoting technology commercialisation
- Policy support to university technology commercialisation
- The antecedents of university spin-off creations
- The role of incubators and venture capitalists to sustain and enhance university spin-offs' emergence and growth.
- The role of university science parks to favour university-industry interactions
- Assessing the factors favouring effective financial and innovative performance of university spin-offs
- Legal aspects of university technology commercialisation
Manuscripts due by: 15 Ju1y, 2017