Universities have historically been a source of fundamental knowledge, and the premier source of technologies that have found innumerable applications (in the economy, in the military, in health care, etc.) that have shaped the trajectory, the direction and the nature of social and economic development. The contribution of universities towards the economic fabric of a region, nation or supranational entity is manifold, and is recognised as essential to the creation of wealth. It is because of that recognition that there has been a growing need to understand in what ways knowledge created at the universities is transferred and it impacts upon society at large. Knowledge can take many forms, and the resources devoted to knowledge creation can themselves be allocated to different levels and degrees of activities related to that endeavour. However, resources are scarce and resource allocation to knowledge must be essentially of a long- range perspective. The distribution of resources in terms of short-range and long-range investment in knowledge is inextricably linked to the phenomena of university-industry relations. Many initiatives fostering linkages between universities and industry, with a view to increase or facilitate rates of technology transfer, implemented innovation and economic development. However, the contexts in which these relations occur vary broadly and presently, because resources for investment in knowledge creation are scarce and differentiated there is a need for a comprehensive understanding of the variety of initiatives and relationships that exist, and the need for a deeper conceptualization of the forms, configurations, roles and expectations that shape and define existing relationships.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Rival Goods: A good is rival if its use by one person excludes it from being used by another.
Linear Model of Innovation: A theory that holds that innovation is a process of discovery which proceeds via a fixed and linear sequence of phases. In this view, innovation begins with new scientific research, progresses sequentially through stages of product development, production and marketing, and terminates with the successful sale of new products, processes and services.
Science-Based Sectors: Industrial sectors that have research intensity above a certain percentage. Research intensity is defined as the ratio between R&D expenses and total sales. This term was defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Excludable Goods: A good is excludable if the owner can preclude others from using it.
Appropriability: Knowledge generated by a firm can be contained within its premises or it can leak out to other firms. If it is easily codified in books, blueprints or other means, its transmissibility is high and it has low appropriability. If the knowledge is difficult to codify then it has a high appropriability.
Patent: A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by a government office. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention.
Spin-Off Firm: A firm that is created by faculty personnel to exploit a research result produced with the research institution’s physical, human and financial resources. A firm may also be a spin-off firm from another firm. In this case, it is defined as a firm created by ex-employees of the mother firm to exploit a research result produced with the firm physical, human and financial resources.