Commercialization of university technology has been on a rise ever since the Bayh-Dole Act came into action in 1980. Under this act, universities got the right to retain title and license inventions funded by federal sponsors (Thursby et al, 2000, 2), which has made universities an important source of commercially important inventions (Chesbrough, 2003). According to 2006 OECD reports, around 17% of R&D activities in OECD countries are done by universities.
Academic entrepreneurship is not a single action but comprises of a series of activities (Friedman, Silberman, 2003). A proper understanding of it can be achieved by developing a multistage process model (Wood, 2011, 154). The process of commercialization starts from the university’s Technology Transfer Office. The job of TTOs is to ensure that all the innovations are disclosed so that they can be secured by the proper intellectual property (IP) rights protection to mitigate the hazard of imitation and hence facilitating its transfer to external partner (Carlsson & Fridh, 2002; Thursby & Thursby 2007). TTO plays a very crucial or central role in the commercialization activities (Markman et al., 2005). Bayh-Dole Act discussed earlier has polices under which, research faculty has to reveal his/her new research to the TTO. It’s observed in some cases that faculties are not interested in disclosing their innovation; it’s just because of university policies that they are saved from becoming ‘on the shelf’ (Linsk, Siegel, Wright, & Ensley, 2006). The work of the TTO member is to check the suitability of the innovation for intellectual protection. The outcome of the review is either rejected or submission of the application for taking the IP rights (Carlsson & Fridh, 2002). It’s not that rejected innovation by TTO cannot be commercialized; rather, the IP reverts back to the researcher and then its innovator’s responsibility to get IP rights (O’Shea et al., 2004).
Once the decisions have been made to get IP rights, the second stage is creating awareness and securing suitable industry partner with suitable skills and recourses to develop commercially viable products from the technology (Wood, 2011, 157). Since many business leaders are not aware of how TTOs works and what academic innovations are available to them. Sprinkle (2006) points out that this problem can be solved, if TTOs get registered with networks like brigade (www.iBridgeNetwork.org) to alert industry partners.
The last stage comes is finding the modes of technology transfer to industrial partners and defining its mechanisms. The research products of a university are rarely suitable for direct exploitation as commercial products or services in the market (Rogers, 2003). It’s very difficult to convert these researches into market based products and services. The conversion process requires knowledge of both technologies and their markets in order to develop commercially viable products and services (Fontes, 2005). This conversion...