les Nouvelles - December 2008

The 4M Framework For How University Innovations Get Commercialized, And Corresponding Ways To Optimize University IP Policies And Practices

Michael Cohen

UC Berkley, Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Alliances, Director, Acting, Berkley, CA, USA


Universities establish policies and practice for managing their intellectual property (IP) in order to achieve a variety of objectives—one of which is typically the fast, broad, commercialization of university developed innovations for the purpose of (a) benefiting society and the regional economy, (b) supporting research and education, as well as (c) rewarding inventors for their ingenuity. Accordingly understanding how university innovations get commercialized to meet those objectives is important in optimizing a university’s IP policies and practices. However, many university executives don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the pathways by which innovations get commercialized on their campuses. To address this disconnect, this article proposes a new framework for characterizing how innovations get commercialized at universities, and then the article analyzes IP licensing, patenting, and related aspects of sponsored research in the context of this new framework in order to help universities strategically optimize their IP policies and practices.

Commercialization Pathways

Innovations developed at universities get commercialized through a variety of pathways. These pathways can be organized into a framework that can be used to optimize a university’s IP policies and practices such that the IP policies and practices strategically help drive the commercialization of innovations

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