Investigation of Research Commercialization at a University: A Case Study
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With the increase of awareness and focus on university research commercialization, much research had been conducted to investigate this subject. It was revealed that because universities were not traditionally built to serve the purpose of commercialization, many obstacles existed in the path of university research commercialization. Historically, research had largely focused on identifying critical factors that impacted the performance of commercialization. However, it was not clear how those findings could be systematically incorporated into the commercialization improvement plan of individual cases. This research intended to fill this gap and provide a framework that could be used by most universities to access and improve their research commercialization process. A case study of a U.S. land-grant university was conducted and a narrative approach was mainly used as the method of data analysis. Under the scope of a single-case study, four sub-studies were conducted to address the goals of this research. First, a framework was developed that incorporated theories of existing research and the value stream map of lean management. Interviews with the intellectual property office and faculty were conducted to determine if the theoretical framework was applicable. It was found that the framework fitted well with the current process of university research commercialization. After that, a survey that covered a sample size of 1110 researchers at the targeted university was conducted to investigate the importance of different resources at different stages of the process. Resources that were under investigation were grouped into four categories: technical, human, social, and financial resources. This research identified the most important resources for research commercialization were industrial connections (social resource) and assistance from the intellectual property (IP) office (human resource), with industrial connections playing a more importance role at the beginning of the process and the IP office from the stage of patent application. To assess organizational characteristics of the targeted university, interviews were conducted with 22 faculty, three representatives from the administration, one representative from the intellectual property office, and one representative from an external organization. Six criteria derived from previous research were used to guide the assessment: (1) expenditures on research and development (RandD), (2) intellectual property policy, (3) research field, (4) key individuals, (5) commitment to innovation, and (6) networking with external relations. It was found that the targeted university had strong evidence of the advantages of expenditures on RandD and research field, however, it was relatively weak in the other four characteristics. The last part of the research involved interviews with two companies for the purpose of developing a best practice for research commercialization with the examples from the industry. Recommendations to improve targeted university's research commercialization were developed based on findings of the research.
- Doctoral Dissertations