University entrpreneurship: the role of U.S. faculty in technology transfer and commercialization
Fuller, Anne W.
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My dissertation research focuses commercializing university related technology. My first essay investigates whether patents assigned to U.S. universities largely represent the totality of faculty inventions patented. In contrast to prior work that identified faculty patents by searching for patents assigned to the university, I find in a sample of patents with US faculty as inventors, 26% are assigned solely to firms rather than universities. This initially seems to conflict with US university employment policies and Bayh-Dole. I relate assignment to patent characteristics, university policy, inventor field and academic entrepreneurship. Patents assigned to firms (whether established or start-ups with inventor as principal) are less basic than those assigned to universities suggesting these patents result from faculty consulting. The second essay examines the growing phenomena of U.S. academic entrepreneurship. Building on prior work demonstrating the embryonic state of science and engineering research that is licensed through the university (Jensen & Thursby 2001), I extend this framework to university inventions commercialized by new technology-based firms (NTBFs). I posit that the presence of faculty inventor founders will be beneficial to the NTBF. This is tested with a uniquely constructed dataset representing a variety of university and industry settings. Results indicate firms with faculty founders have a higher likelihood to experience an IPO or become acquired than other similar new firms. Second, faculty members with highly cited publications have incrementally more impact on the likelihood of the firm having an IPO. Thus I discern that while faculty founders matter, 'star' scientists matter more. The third essay identifies significant variables in the observed career level patent assignment patterns of academic serial inventors. Existing life cycle models test the idea that consulting occurs later in the career span of academic scientists. I find that indeed the proxy for consulting (firm assignment of patents) is more likely the later the patent application is from the year of Phd for the faculty inventors. I found strong evidence that faculty performing industry consulting are more likely to continue consulting in subsequent work. However the use of rolling lag variables based on transition probability matrices increased the variance explained in the regression model by a factor of three indicating factors other than life cycle may be significant.