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Is the commercialisation of European academic R&D weak? - a critical assessment of a 'dominant belief' and associated policy responses

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  • Staffan Jacobsson
  • Asa Lindholm Dahlstrand

    ()

  • Lennart Elg

Abstract

For some fifteen years it has been argued that Europe's research and industrial base suffers from a series of weaknesses, the greatest of which is the comparatively limited capacity to convert scientific breakthroughs and technological achievements into commercial successes. This perception of a strong European science base which is not translated into technological and commercial success has subsequently been labelled the "European Paradox". Over time the focus has shifted from discussing how European firms can increase their competitiveness, to the commercialisation of publicly financed R&D. There is a strong belief that the EU is under-performing in its ability to exploit and commercialise publicly funded science. Scrutinising the interaction between universities and industry at the European level is, however, fraught with empirical difficulties. The phenomena in question are complex, and require very detailed analysis using local knowledge and case studies. An interesting case in point for a detailed scrutiny is Sweden in which a perception of a Paradox has influenced policy discussion for two decades. The first purpose of this paper is to critically assess a) the validity of this dominant belief of a poor commercialisation of academic R&D, and b) the actual and proposed solutions to handle that problem. In addressing this first purpose, we focus empirically on the case of Sweden. With high R&D spending and a long standing perception of a "Swedish Paradox", the Swedish case is, arguably, of particular value for a detailed analysis. First, we detail how the dominant belief has emerged over the past two decades. Second, we scrutinize the empirical foundation of the literature that upholds that belief as well as empirical indications that cast serious doubt on it. The second purpose is to critically assess the usefulness of copying US science policy solutions in Europe in which much attention is given to the ownership of IPR. This is done by returning to the EU level and draw upon literature in both the US and Europe. The paper ends with our main conclusions.

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  • Staffan Jacobsson & Asa Lindholm Dahlstrand & Lennart Elg, 2011. "Is the commercialisation of European academic R&D weak? - a critical assessment of a 'dominant belief' and associated policy responses," ERSA conference papers ersa10p1603, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa10p1603
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    Cited by:

    1. Merle Jacob & Asa Lindholm Dahlstrand & Sprutacz Maren, 2016. "RIO Country Report 2015: Sweden," JRC Working Papers JRC101217, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    2. Federico Munari & Einar Rasmussen & Laura Toschi & Elisa Villani, 2016. "Determinants of the university technology transfer policy-mix: a cross-national analysis of gap-funding instruments," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 41(6), pages 1377-1405, December.
    3. Stefano Bianchini & Patrick Llerena, 2016. "Science policy as a prerequisite of industrial policy," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 43(3), pages 273-280, September.
    4. Fabrizio Cesaroni & Andrea Piccaluga, 2016. "The activities of university knowledge transfer offices: towards the third mission in Italy," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 753-777, August.
    5. Martin Jaekel & Arto Wallin & Minna Isomursu, 2015. "Guiding Networked Innovation Projects Towards Commercial Success—a Case Study of an EU Innovation Programme with Implications for Targeted Open Innovation," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 6(3), pages 625-639, September.
    6. Ani Gerbin & Mateja Drnovsek, 2016. "Determinants and public policy implications of academic-industry knowledge transfer in life sciences: a review and a conceptual framework," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 41(5), pages 979-1076, October.
    7. Jonas Sonnenschein, 2016. "Understanding indicator choice for the assessment of research, development, and demonstration financing of low-carbon energy technologies: Lessons from the Nordic countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 048, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    8. Kenney, Martin, 2013. "Commercialization or Engagement: Which Is of More Significance to the U.S. Economy ?," ETLA Working Papers 13, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.

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