A new report from the Brookings Institute by Walter D. Valdivia examines the standard operating procedure of technology transfers at research universities. Valdivia's research found most universities lose money on tech transfers using the common model of licensing intellectual property to the highest bidder. In 2012, the 5 percent of universities that make the most money from tech transfers made 50 percent of the total licensing income of all universities that do so. Current practices create a lopsided distribution of licensing income across research universities, where the same 37 universities consistently perform highly and the rest do not.
"There's nothing inherently wrong with the current model, but it isn't enough," Valdivia told The New York Times. "There need to be more alternatives."
Valdivia recommends moving from the current technology transfer model to one in which universities create and nurture startups using their own intellectual property in-house. According to his research and analysis, this way of executing tech transfers would bring more revenue to universities, and create a more stable relationship between academia and industry.
"There's a growing understanding, more in some places than in others, that it can't just be about revenue," Valdivia told the Times. "It's about creating an entrepreneurial environment."
Universities that pay attention to this report and implement its suggestions may break new ground in academic intellectual property management.