Research with Impact: Managing IP in Research Consortia

Anne-Laure Mention

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Bruno Woeran

Saleh Al Sharieh
University of Groningen, Netherlands

Introduction and aim: Introduction to the study, its objectives and/or hypotheses

Modern universities are entrepreneurial and act as both “knowledge educator and seed-bed for new firms” (Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff, 2000). The core business of universities is no longer exclusively focused on delivering their education mission. Increasingly, universities are put under pressure to generate and disseminate actionable knowledge. The actionable nature of the knowledge leads to intellectual property concerns at three main stages: prior to engaging into a cooperative research; during the research and development phase; and finally at the commercialisation stage. We hereby argue that IP concerns do vary across the whole lifetime of an R&D&innovation project and requires its management to be agile. In this submission, we explore a sample of research consortia in different engineering areas, involving universities, research and technology organisations, SMEs and large firms, as well as public bodies.
Research methodology: Methods used and/or approach taken

This exploratory research is based on primary and secondary data collected from a set of European-funded projects organised in large research consortia, across two main technological areas: information and communications technologies and energy.
Primary data has been collected through interviews with key informants from the research consortia, i.e. IP lawyers, Technology transfer officers, C-level representatives from private sector firms and high level executive from public bodies. A specific focus of this research is dedicated to understand how the collaborative innovation process is framed and what are the IP governance mechanisms put in place, along the whole lifecycle of the project: a priori, during the R&D, during the commercialisation phase.

Results and implications: Results and/or arguments summarised

Our framework enables to highlight the need to depart from a defensive IP management strategy (still very much observed nowadays, despite the counter-productive effects demonstrated in the literature), and to adopt an agile IP management approach. Sequencing the different stages of the R&D&I projects and adapting the governance mechanisms accordingly may open up the way to new ventures and opportunities, and lower resistance to collaborative research.

The results now need to be confronted to a wider audience so as to enable the generation of a toolkit for innovation scholars and leaders.

Conclusion: Main outcomes of the study

This study aims to provide evidence on the importance of agile IP management in research consortia. Furthermore, it aims to build a set of recommendations and guidelines for funding research organisations, so that they can prescribe a flexible approach to IP management as well as the need for governance mechanisms in research consortia.

Etzkowitz, H. & Leydesdorff, L. (2000). The dynamics of innovation: from National Systems and “Mode 2” to a Triple Helix of university-industry-government relations. Research Policy, 29(2), 109-123.