(Press-News.org) Industry-sponsored, academic research leads to innovative patents and licenses, says a new analysis led by Brian Wright, University of California, Berkeley professor of agricultural and resource economics.
The finding calls into question assumptions that corporate support skews science toward inventions that are less accessible and less useful to others than those funded by the government or non-profit organizations.
The analysis, based on a study of two decades of records from the University of California system, is in today's science journal Nature.
The National Science Foundation's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences funded the study. "There are two potential interpretations of the report," said Joshua Rosenbloom, program director for Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP). "One is optimistic. Corporate funding leads to research that is more likely to be commercialized and this greater focus is good.
"The second reading is that corporate funding shifts the focus of research away from basic science," added Rosenbloom.
During the last few decades, the share of gross domestic product supporting research and development has been stable, but the corporate share has increased substantially. "This may reflect a shift in emphasis away from basic science discoveries that provide a basis for future commercialization," Rosenbloom said.
SciSIP supports interdisciplinary social science research that builds an evidence base for informed policy choices and contributes to a better understanding of the interactions between science, technology and innovation.
The commentary's authors analyzed 12,516 inventions and related licenses at nine University of California campuses and three associated national laboratories. The inventions were disclosed between 1990 and 2005, and licensing activity was analyzed through 2010. Of the inventions, nearly 1,500 were supported at least partly by private industry.
The analysis found that industry-funded inventions yielded patents and licenses more frequently than federally sponsored ones, with results consistent across technical fields. The researchers also found that industry-sponsored inventions were more highly cited in subsequent patent applications--known as "forward citations"--the most widely used marker of a patent's quality and importance. Each corporate-sponsored invention generated an average of 12.8 forward citations compared with 5.6 for federally sponsored inventions.
"This runs counter to the expectation that corporate-sponsored inventions have narrow applications, and so create ... few benefits for others," the authors wrote.
Locking up inventions for profit?
Because corporations usually get first crack at negotiating licenses to the inventions they sponsor, there is an assumption that corporations tie up innovative discoveries in a way that restricts access to a broader audience.
However, the intellectual property data analyzed by the authors indicate that industry has not been more likely than federally sponsored research to tie up research discoveries in exclusive licenses. Overall, corporate-funded inventions were licensed exclusively 74 percent of the time, while federally funded inventions were licensed exclusively 76 percent of the time. Notably, among the corporate-funded inventions with exclusive licenses, half seemed to go to third parties and not the sponsor.
"We didn't expect these results," said Wright. "We thought companies would be interested in applied research that was closer to being products, and thus more likely to be licensed exclusively and less cited than federally funded counterparts, but that did not turn out to be the case."
The authors acknowledged that they might not have identified all third party licensees that were actually affiliated with the original corporate sponsor, but Wright said this does not affect the finding that licenses to corporate-funded inventions are not more likely to be exclusive.
"Industry-funded research need not be locked up by corporate sponsors if both the sponsored research office and the tech transfer office take care in protecting and marketing the results," said co-author Stephen Merrill, executive director of Science, Technology and Economic Policy at The National Academies.
Vigilance still needed
The authors of the new Nature paper said their findings should not be used to relax oversight over industry funding, particularly when it comes to trials of products rather than the invention disclosures covered in their analysis.
"The tobacco, food, pharmaceutical and other industries have been shown to manipulate research questions and public discourse for their benefit, and even to suppress unfavorable research," the study authors wrote.
The new analysis also covered only one university system, and it "may not be typical of all academia," said Wright. He added that the University of California system's strong reputation for basic research gives its tech transfer offices more pull when drawing up contracts.
During the 20-year period analyzed in the paper, University of California campuses accounted for up to 9 percent of total U.S. academic research expenditure, and it collectively obtained more issued patents than any other U.S. academic institution. Tech transfer offices at small universities may benefit by pooling resources to increase their negotiating power, said Wright.
The authors of the Nature paper concluded that while universities should remain vigilant when setting up contracts with corporations, "they should not assume companies are focused mainly on tying up intellectual property."
The other co-authors on the paper are Kyriakos Drivas, a postdoctoral research economist at the Agricultural University of Athens, and Zhen Lei, an assistant professor of energy and environmental economics at Pennsylvania State University.
Analysis: Industry-sponsored academic inventions spur increased innovation
Study of records from the University of California system reveals surprising findings
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
NASA's Van Allen Probes reveal zebra stripes in space
Scientists have discovered a new, persistent structure in one of two radiation belts surrounding Earth. NASA's twin Van Allen Probes spacecraft have shown that high-energy electrons in the inner radiation belt display a persistent pattern that resembles slanted zebra stripes. Surprisingly, this structure is produced by the slow rotation of Earth, previously considered incapable of affecting the motion of radiation belt particles, which have velocities approaching the speed of light. Scientists had previously believed that increased solar wind activity was the primary ...
Sometimes less is more for hungry dogs
Hungry dogs would be expected to choose alternatives leading to more food rather than less food. But just as with humans and monkeys, they sometimes show a "less is more" effect. Thus conclude Kristina Pattison and Thomas Zentall of the University of Kentucky in the US, who tested the principle by feeding baby carrots and string cheese to ten dogs of various breeds. The findings are published in Springer's journal Animal Cognition. The research was conducted on dogs that would willingly eat cheese and baby carrots when offered, but showed a preference for the cheese. ...
Alzheimer's prevention trial to monitor reactions to higher disease risk status
PHILADELPHIA - A new clinical trial will soon begin testing whether early medical intervention in people at risk for Alzheimer's can slow down progression of disease pathology before symptoms emerge, as outlined in Science Translational Medicine. For the first time, people with no Alzheimer's disease symptoms will be told of their risk status before being asked to join the randomized controlled trial. As part of the overall prevention trial, Penn Medicine neurodegenerative ethics experts will monitor how learning about their risk of developing Alzheimer's impacts trial ...
NJIT physicist helps to discover a new structure in Earth's radiation belt
An NJIT physicist is a collaborator in the discovery of a new structure in Earth's inner radiation belt -- a zebra-striped structure of highly energized electrons that could endanger humans in space and also damage low-earth navigation and communication satellites. And surprisingly, the new structure is produced not by solar activity but by Earth's slow rotation. Scientists had previously thought Earth's rotation couldn't affect the motion of radiation belt particles. The data supporting these discoveries comes from a measuring device aboard the two NASA Van Allen Probes ...
Scientists describe gut bacteria that cause sepsis in preterm infants
Researchers studying intestinal bacteria in newborns have characterized the gut bacteria of premature infants who go on to develop sepsis, a serious and potentially life-threatening condition caused by bacteria in the bloodstream. Their findings suggest new strategies for the early detection and prevention of severe bloodstream infections. The research was funded by several components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), ...
Ancient food webs developed modern structure soon after mass extinction
Researchers from the Santa Fe Institute and the Smithsonian Institution have pieced together a highly detailed picture of feeding relationships among 700 mammal, bird, reptile, fish, insect, and plant species from a 48 million year old lake and forest ecosystem. Their analysis of fossilized remains from the Messel deposit near Frankfurt, Germany, provides the most compelling evidence to date that ancient food webs were organized much like modern food webs. Their paper describing the research appears online and open access this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society ...
NIH grantees sharpen understanding of antibodies that may cut risk of HIV infection
What immune response should a vaccine elicit to prevent HIV infection? Two studies published online today bring scientists closer to answering this question by identifying previously unrecognized attributes of antibodies that appear to have reduced the risk of HIV infection in the only clinical trial to show efficacy, albeit modest, of an experimental vaccine regimen in people. Earlier analyses of the results of that trial, known as RV144, suggested that antibodies to sites within a part of the HIV envelope called V1V2 correlated with reduced risk of HIV infection. These ...
Patients enjoy good quality of life 10 years after esophagectomy and gastric pull-up
Beverly, MA, March 19, 2014 – Long-term survivors after esophagectomy with gastric pull-up can enjoy a satisfying meal and good quality of life according to a new study from a team of researchers at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles. This study concluded that pessimism about the long-term quality of life after an esophagectomy on the part of treating physicians and patients is unwarranted. It is published in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, an official publication of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery. ...
Texans are turning to a different kind of spirit -- vodka -- and saltier is better
DALLAS, March 19, 2014 — Texans, known for enjoying local beers and Dr Pepper soft drinks, now have a growing beverage industry that would appeal to James Bond, who is well-known for enjoying a good martini. Distillers are producing at least 17 Texas vodkas, researchers reported here today, and the most popular are, surprisingly, those that are a bit salty. Their report, "Shaken not stirred, y'all: A comparison of select Texas vodkas," covered the results of group tastings on the vodkas, as well as some surprising facts about the state's alcoholic beverage market. ...
The aging brain needs REST
Why do neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's affect only the elderly? Why do some people live to be over 100 with intact cognitive function while others develop dementia decades earlier? More than a century of research into the causes of dementia has focused on the clumps and tangles of abnormal proteins that appear in the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases. However, scientists know that at least one piece of the puzzle has been missing because some people with these abnormal protein clumps show few or no signs of cognitive decline. A new study ...
LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:
Scientists model 'true prevalence' of COVID-19 throughout pandemic
New breakthrough to help immune systems in the fight against cancer
Through the thin-film glass, researchers spot a new liquid phase
Administering opioids to pregnant mice alters behavior and gene expression in offspring
Brain's 'memory center' needed to recognize image sequences but not single sights
Safety of second dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines after first-dose allergic reactions
Changes in disparities in access to care, health after Medicare eligibility
Use of high-risk medications among lonely older adults
65+ and lonely? Don't talk to your doctor about another prescription
Exosome formulation developed to deliver antibodies for choroidal neovascularization therapy
Second COVID-19 mRNA vaccine dose found safe following allergic reactions to first dose
Plant root-associated bacteria preferentially colonize their native host-plant roots
Rare inherited variants in previously unsuspected genes may confer significant risk for autism
International experts call for a unified public health response to NAFLD and NASH epidemic
International collaboration of scientists rewrite the rulebook of flowering plant genetics
Improving air quality reduces dementia risk, multiple studies suggest
Misplaced trust: When trust in science fosters pseudoscience
Two types of blood pressure meds prevent heart events equally, but side effects differ
New statement provides path to include ethnicity, ancestry, race in genomic research
Among effective antihypertensive drugs, less popular choice is slightly safer
Juicy past of favorite Okinawan fruit revealed
Anticipate a resurgence of respiratory viruses in young children
Anxiety, depression, burnout rising as college students prepare to return to campus
Goal-setting and positive parent-child relationships reduce risk of youth vaping
New research identifies cancer types with little survival improvements in adolescents and young adul
Oncotarget: Replication-stress sensitivity in breast cancer cells
Oncotarget: TERT and its binding protein: overexpression of GABPA/B in gliomas
Development of a novel technology to check body temperature with smartphone camera
The mechanics of puncture finally explained
Extreme heat, dry summers main cause of tree death in Colorado's subalpine forests[Press-News.org] Analysis: Industry-sponsored academic inventions spur increased innovation
Study of records from the University of California system reveals surprising findings