Benchmarking U.S. University Patent Value and Commercialization Efforts: A New Approach

David Hsu, Management, The Wharton School; Po-Hsuan Hsu, National Tsing Hua University; Tong Zhou, ShanghaiTech University; and Arvids Ziedonis, KU Leuven

Research Policy, Vol. 50, Issue 1, January 2021

Abstract: Despite the economic significance of patented university research, it is difficult to measure the economic value of academic patented inventions and observe the extent to which universities are able to capture such value through patent licensing. Moving beyond assessing commercialization performance by simple statistics, we propose a new approach to benchmarking university patents and commercialization performance based on comparative corporate patent value. Our procedure involves matching university patents to patents with similar patent characteristics granted to public corporations, then estimating the “potential value” of these university patents by stock market reactions to grants of the matched corporate patents. These estimated values of university patents can significantly explain the technology-level income from licensing by a leading US research university and the annual licensing income of the member universities of the Association of University Technology Managers’ (AUTM). We find that AUTM universities realize an average of 16% of the estimated value of matched corporate patents. We also investigate correlates of university‐level potential patent value and suggest avenues for future research.

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