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Teaching, research, alumni donations … and accumulating patents

Most US universities maintain three core businesses that earn most of their revenue:  selling diplomas, competing for federal and industry research sponsorships, and trying to crack open the checkbooks of wealthy alumni.    Since the 1980s, universities have ventured into a new line of business:  patenting inventions from university research labs and brokering these patents to businesses and startups.  Thirty years later, university patent holdings have swelled into the tens of thousands and larger research universities spend millions of dollars each year on filing for new patents.  Continue reading

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Utah’s great experiment in university technology commercialization

What better way to study the pros and cons of a major shift in strategy than to examine its impact on a similar organization that took the plunge?  In 2005, the University of Utah’s new president Michael Young, in response to the state’s investments in Utah’s knowledge economy, plucked the technology commercialization office out of the research administration division and handed its oversight to Jack Brittain, then Dean of Utah’s business school.  Continue reading

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Fear, uncertainty and doubt and university IP strategy

Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) provide a shoddy foundation for an effective innovation strategy.  Blogger Jeffrey Phillips, in a recent post, argues that FUD-based marketing campaigns value “what’s known and experienced … in a decision process [more] than what’s new or unknown. [FUD marketing] argues that consistency in decision making and loyalty to the status quo are more valuable and more defensible than change.”   Here’s an example of marketing based on fear, uncertainty and doubt:  FUD-utilizing company X says “if you buy competitor’s <rival product (s)>, though you will pay less for their product at first, you will pay far more down the road in support fees, poor product security and poor compability with existing industry standards.” FUD is a great technique for incumbent companies that have a strong incentive to want things to stay the same.

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