Benchmarking U.S. University Technology 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, January 2021

Abstract: University research-originated patented inventions are both becoming more numerous over time, and of higher “quality” as measured by standard social science metrics. Despite the significance of patented university research, it is difficult to observe the extent to which universities are able to capture the economic value from their patented inventions. Moving beyond assessing commercialization performance by simple statistics, we propose a new approach of benchmarking university commercialization performance based on comparative patent value. Our procedure involves matching university patents to patents granted to public corporations with similar patent characteristics. We then estimate the private value of the matched corporate patents using stock market reaction to the patent grant. This allows us to estimate university patent values, which are otherwise difficult to observe. Using these estimated private values of university patents, we then calibrate an empirical patent valuation model by employing licensing data from a leading US research university. We then extrapolate the (calibrated) patent valuation model to estimate, using reported university-year licensing values, university patent portfolio values compared to market-based values. In aggregate, we find that universities realize on average 7-16% of the estimated market value through licensing income. Finally, we investigate the correlates of university-level estimated patent value and suggest avenues for future research.

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