Commercialization of university inventions: Individual and institutional factors affecting licensing of university patents

Yonghong Wu, Eric Welch, Wan Ling Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


This paper conducts a unique study using the university patent as the unit of analysis to determine how individual and institutional factors affect the likelihood that a patent will be licensed. Using a 2010 national survey of academic scientists in the United States in which respondents were asked specific questions about 2006 patents for which they were listed as inventors, we find that the likelihood of licensing is significantly determined by individual factors including inventors' attitude towards commercialization of research, additional research conducted during patent review, and collaboration with industry scientists on the underlying research. Among institutional factors, university Technology Transfer Office's cost-saving measures positively influence licensing, but industry funding and TTO service effectiveness do not. We also identify two types of inventions: opportunity-based inventions are discoveries that are not foreseen patentable at the outset of projects; intention-based inventions occur on research projects that anticipate commercial outcomes before the start of research. Findings demonstrate that different individual and institutional factors contribute to licensing of these two different inventions. This study provides new insights into the process of commercialization of university inventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-25
Number of pages14
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Licensing
  • Patent
  • Research commercialization
  • University invention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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