Academic inventions outside the University: Investigating patent ownership in the UK

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This paper investigates the ownership of academic patents for a sample of UK academics and challenges the existing definition of the university invention ownership model. The first descriptive results show that 50 per cent of patents are owned by industry; however, 37 per cent of these firm-assigned patents are in fact owned by university spin-offs. We investigate how university policy and funding acquisition impacts industry versus university ownership, and find that funding from large firms predicts involvement in patenting and, to a lesser extent, firm ownership. University ownership of academic patents is more likely the higher the amount of funding coming from SMEs, and at universities that outsource the filing of patents. Spin-off patents occupy an intermediate position showing strong similarities to both firm and university patents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-398
Number of pages14
JournalIndustry and Innovation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • academic entrepreneurship
  • academic patenting
  • patent ownership
  • sponsored research
  • university-industry collaboration


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