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Bottom-Up vs. Top-Down Policies towards the Commercialization of University Intellectual Property


  • Goldfarb, Brent

    () (Department of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

  • Henrekson, Magnus

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)


What national policies are most efficient in promoting the commercialization of university-generated knowledge? We address this question by characterizing and evaluating the policy pursued in Sweden and the US, two countries that put a great deal of resources into university R&D, but follow very different models for commercialization. Despite a leading academic record, there is an impression of laggard rates of commercialization of academic research results in Sweden. Although there exist no micro data to evaluate this impression, we argue that it is likely to be true in part due to the top-down nature of Swedish policies aimed at commercializing these innovations as well as an academic environment that discourages academics from actively participating in the commercialization of their ideas. This sits in stark contrast to a US institutional setting characterized by competition between universities for research funds and research personnel, which in turn has led to significant academic freedoms to interact with industry, including significant involvement in new firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Goldfarb, Brent & Henrekson, Magnus, 2001. "Bottom-Up vs. Top-Down Policies towards the Commercialization of University Intellectual Property," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 463, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 26 May 2002.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0463

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Svensson, Roger, 2002. "Commercialization of Swedish Patents – A Pilot Study in the Medical and Hygiene Sector," Working Paper Series 583, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Svensson, Roger, 2007. "Commercialization of patents and external financing during the R&D phase," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1052-1069, September.
    3. Erika Färnstrand Damsgaard & Marie C. Thursby, 2013. "University entrepreneurship and professor privilege," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 183-218, February.
    4. Pontus Braunerhjelm, 2007. "Academic entrepreneurship: Social norms, university culture and policies," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(9), pages 619-631, November.
    5. Arvanitis, Spyros & Kubli, Ursina & Woerter, Martin, 2008. "University-industry knowledge and technology transfer in Switzerland: What university scientists think about co-operation with private enterprises," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 1865-1883, December.
    6. Josh Lerner & Joacim Tåg, 2013. "Institutions and venture capital," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 153-182, February.
    7. Harvey Goldstein & Edward Bergman & Gunther Maier, 2011. "Comparing U.S. and European Views of University Involvement in Economic Development," ERSA conference papers ersa11p301, European Regional Science Association.
    8. Spyros Arvanitis & Ursina Kubli & Martin Woerter, 2006. "University-Industry Knowledge Interaction in Switzerland: What University Scientists Think about Co-operation with Private Enterprises," KOF Working papers 06-132, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    9. Bekkers, R. & Gilsing, V.A. & van der Steen, M., 2006. "Determining factors of the effectiveness of IP-based spin-offs : Comparing the Netherlands and the US," Other publications TiSEM 3e40ba18-c59c-46b5-a16a-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    10. Rory O’Shea & Harveen Chugh & Thomas Allen, 2008. "Determinants and consequences of university spinoff activity: a conceptual framework," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 33(6), pages 653-666, December.
    11. Riccardo Fini & Kun Fu & Marius Tuft Mathisen & Einar Rasmussen & Mike Wright, 2017. "Institutional determinants of university spin-off quantity and quality: a longitudinal, multilevel, cross-country study," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 361-391, February.
    12. Alexander Schacht, 2012. "Commercializing inventions from public research: Does speed matter?," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-026, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

    More about this item


    Academic entrepreneurship; Innovation; Intellectual property; R&D; Spin-off firms; Technology transfer; University-industry relations; Universities and business formation;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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