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Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9722.
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Executive Summary

This report summarizes discussions and insights from the workshop on Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research held March 23–24, 1998, in Irvine, California. The workshop was organized by the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss barriers to university-industry cooperation and to explore concrete approaches to overcoming them. Practitioners from universities and industry, as well as government policy makers, participated in the two-day workshop.

It is hoped that the workshop and this publication will contribute to wider dissemination of constructive approaches to problem resolution and build broader appreciation of creative pathways around stumbling blocks. The report summarizes the context of workshop discussions, trends in university-industry collaboration, barriers, and possible future tasks. Also included as appendixes are the presentations of Teri Willey and Francis Via, who are experienced technology transfer professionals. These presentations were chosen for their practical university and industry perspectives on the relevant issues.

Given the scope of the project, a comprehensive examination of university-industry research collaboration and related issues was not possible. It is hoped, however, that the workshop and report will contribute to further efforts in this important and complex area.

The report was reviewed by those who made presentations and by several other experts. They provided many useful suggestions, but the report is not a consensus document or conference proceedings.

TRENDS IN UNIVERSITY-INDUSTRY COLLABORATION

  • Participants noted that university-industry research collaboration is becoming more frequent and extensive, with growing complexity in indi-

Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9722.
×

vidual partnerships. Over the last two decades, industry-supported research has steadily grown nationally in amount and as a percentage of all university research.

  • A number of collaborative mechanisms were discussed, including (1) university research sponsored by companies; (2) faculty consulting; (3) licensing of university-owned intellectual property to existing companies; (4) university support for start-up companies in the form of loans, grants, and equity ownership; (5) "mega agreements" between individual companies and universities that cover a range of interactions; (6) research centers and other government-supported efforts to encourage university-industry collaboration; and (7) industry consortia to support university research.

  • There is significant diversity in the approaches taken in different fields. Participants remarked on differences between industry-university collaboration in health care and the life sciences vis-a-vis[vis-à-vis] physical sciences and engineering. Most of the discoveries that have produced significant licensing revenue for universities have been in the life sciences.

  • Participants noted that a growing array of rules, procedures, and institutions, particularly on the academic side, govern collaboration. Protecting and managing university-generated intellectual property has become a significant task, and some institutions are delegating this work to non-profit and for-profit subsidiaries.

BARRIERS TO COLLABORATION AND TOOLS TO OVERCOME THEM

  • Culture, management, and goal alignment. Despite the long experience that many companies and universities have in pursuing collaboration, workshop participants still considered the development of trust an essential but sometimes neglected precondition for success. The discussions covered tools for structuring and managing partnerships and approaches to reconciling different time horizons.

  • Institutional incentives. University and private industry incentive structures may not sufficiently recognize or reward the key contributions that ensure successful collaboration. Workshop participants discussed ways that incentive structures could be changed with funding mechanisms and evaluation systems that are better targeted.

  • Proprietary rights. Issues of proprietary rights and their disposition were a special focus of the workshop. Proprietary rights issues are often linked to other areas such as project management and incentives. There was

Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9722.
×

a broad range of perspectives on the issue of how aggressive universities should be in patenting and licensing their inventions. The participants also covered such issues as the patenting of research tools, the structure of university technology transfer operations, and agreements on confidentiality, and delay of publication.

POSSIBLE FUTURE TASKS

  • Participants made a number of suggestions on possible future tasks. Many participants believe the policy framework for university-industry interactions established by the Bayh-Dole Act, formally known as the Patent and Trademark Laws Amendments of 1980, is working well, while a few participants believe a fundamental reconsideration of that law is in order. Technically, the Bayh-Dole provisions influence university-industry collaboration only when a university invention is developed using federal funds.

  • Individual participants suggested that key industry and university bodies consider development of (1) accepted standards for training and credentialing of university and industry technology transfer professionals; (2) a statement on acceptable indirect cost practices in university-industry research, which may need to address the government's role; and (3) a declaration of principles concerning responsible conduct in industry-university research collaboration.

  • Several participants stated that further study and exchange of ideas on the way universities successfully structure technology transfer operations would be useful. Similarly, a detailed examination of industry effective practices in research collaboration with universities would be helpful. These exercises could also explore whether there are areas in which pursuit of proprietary rights is counterproductive for all concerned.

Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9722.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9722.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Executive Summary." National Research Council. 1999. Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9722.
×
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This report summarizes discussions and insights from the workshop on Overcoming Barriers to Collaborative Research held March 23-24, 1998, in Irvine, California. The workshop was organized by the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss barriers to university-industry cooperation and to explore concrete approaches to overcoming them. Practitioners from universities and industry, as well as government policy makers, participated in the two-day workshop.

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