University autonomy ip legislation and academic patenting italy 1996 2006
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University autonomy, IP legislation and academic patenting: Italy, 1996-2006. Francesco Lissoni 1,2 , Michele Pezzoni 2,3 , Bianca Potì 4 , Sandra Romagnosi 5

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University autonomy ip legislation and academic patenting italy 1996 2006

University autonomy, IP legislation and academic patenting: Italy, 1996-2006

Francesco Lissoni1,2, Michele Pezzoni2,3, Bianca Potì4, Sandra Romagnosi5

1 GREThA – Université Bordeaux IV - France2 CRIOS– Università "L. Bocconi", Milan - Italy 3Dept of Economics, Università Milano-Bicocca - Italy

4CERIS-CNR, Rome - Italy5Parco ScientificoUniversità "Tor Vergata", Rome - ItalyAPE-INV Final Conference

Paris, 3-4 / 9 / 2013


  • Motivation & Research Questions Italy, 1996-2006

  • Contribute to recent literature on academic patenting in Italy (Europe) by:

  • What/Any trend in academic patenting?

    • Weight of academic patenting on total domestic patenting

    • Ownership: Universities’ share of IP over academic inventions (vs individuals’, PROs’, and business companies’ share)

  • Exploring links between (1) and two policy changes:

    • The granting of autonomy to universities (incl. financial autonomy), in 1989 (effective kick-off: 1995)

    • The introduction of the professor privilege, in 2001


  • Reasons for focusing on universities’ autonomy Italy, 1996-2006

  • Policy: widespread diffusion of autonomy-granting/enhancing reforms in all Europe (e.g. “loiPecresse” in France, 2007); large universities’ quest for more autonomy (e.g. EUA’s report, 2009)

  • Scholarly research - in sociology: “entrepreneurial university” (Clark, 1993); in economics: autonomy&competition perfomance link (Aghion et al., 2009)

  •  Increasing emphasis on “third mission”: is it materializing? (weight of academic patenting)

  •  Decrease of “block grant” funding  project funding & technology transfer as additional sources of revenues: do universities look at IPRs as a source of revenue?

  •  Changes in academic profession’s status (from civil servants to university employees): are universities seizing professors’ IPR assets?


  • Reasons for focusing on the professor privilege Italy, 1996-2006

  • Policy:

    • wave of abolitions in German-speaking and Scandinavian countries since 2000  inefficient legal institution, standing in the way of commercialization of academic research results

    • BUT Italy has introduced it in 2001  incentive-setting justification BUT contradiction with autonomy granting to universities

  • Scholarly research – some recent advocacy for the privilege (Kenney, 2009)


Conclusions /1 Italy, 1996-2006

A. The absolute number of academic patents has increased, but

(i) their weight on total patenting by domestic inventors has not

the share of university-owned acad. patents has increased

B. The probability to observe an academic patent depends on:

- the technology considered

- the science-intensity of research,

- and the characteristics of the local innovation system

After controlling for these determinants:

(iii) the conditional probability to observe an academic patent has declined over time.


Conclusions /2 Italy, 1996-2006

C. The rise of university ownership is explained by:

(iv) the increasing share of public vs. private R&D

the increased autonomy of Italian universities introduction of explicit IP regulations

D. The introduction of the professor privilege in 2001 had no impact at all on either trends  opposed and defeated by universities, thanks to their newly gained autonomy


Methodology for data collection Italy, 1996-2006

Name disambiguation of inventors (EPO patent applications)  free inventor database: http://www.ape-inv.disco.unimib.it

Professor-inventor name matching: 3 professors’ cohorts  inventors 1996-2006 [academic patent  patent with at least 1 academic inventors]

Filtering of false matches by: (i) automatic criteria (ii) past surveys (iii) ongoing survey (iv) probability estimates of no-responses


University autonomy in Italy: Italy, 1996-2006

a quick look

* * *

The professor privilege in Italy:

an even quicker look


  • University autonomy Italy, 1996-2006

  • L.168/1989: basic principles and creation of ad-hoc Ministry

  • Several laws/decrees 1990-1996.

  • Financial autonomy

  • Key block grant: FFO ("FondodiFinanziamentoOrdinario"): starts at 90% of all revenues  automatic decline

  • Universities become free to collect other revenues  great heterogeneity

  • No systematic tie with university-industry technology transfer policy

  • (for a while) GERD grows faster than BERD

  • (Epidemic) diffusionof IP regulations (IP_STATUTE) and TTOs at the university-level

  • Little correlationbetween the twodiffusionprocesses


Weight Italy, 1996-2006of block funds (FFO) and public fundsforscientificreserach on ItalianUniversities’ totale revenues(sources: AQUAMETH, CNSVU)


Diffusion Italy, 1996-2006of IPR statutes and TechTransferOffices in ItalianUniversities(sources: ownelaboration on NETVAL survey; CNSVU survey)


  • The professor privilege Italy, 1996-2006

  • Introduced in 2001

  • Unsolicited, indeed resisted by universities (unsuccessfully at legal level; possibly successfully at IP regulation level)

  • Reformed in 2005 (abolished for research co-sponsored by industry)


  • Econometric Analysis Italy, 1996-2006

  • 2-step Heckman Probit

  • STEP1: probability of an Italian patent to be academic, 1996-2006 as a function of:

  • - time (year dummies)

  • - patent characteristics (IPC class, NPL backward citations, nr inventors)

  • regional innovation system: BERD/GDP; universities’ and PROs’ share of R&D

  • regional university system: diffusion of university IP statutes and TTO; weight of FFO over total revenues;

  •  Estimate of academic patenting trend, conditional on changing environment


  • STEP2: Italy, 1996-2006probability of an academic patent to be owned by the inventor’s university, 1996-2006 as a function of:

  • - time(year dummies)

  • - patent characteristics & regional innovation system

  • university’s characteristics:

  • - fixed effect (dummies)

  • - time-variant:

  • - adoption of IP statute

  • - TTO opening

  • - weight of FFO over total revenues (FFO_RATIO);

  • Estimate of ownership trend, as a function of increasing autonomy & conditional on changing environment

  • Similar estimates for individual & business ownership


  • KEY RESULTS Italy, 1996-2006

  • STEP1 (probability of an Italian patent to be academic)

  • - negative trend after controlling for patent characteristics (less-than expected composition effect)

  • - “classic” results for patent characteristics

  • Positive effect of both BERD/GDP (demand side) and universities’ share of R&D (supply side)

  • No effect of FFO_RATIO


  • KEY RESULTS Italy, 1996-2006

  • STEP2 (probability of university ownership)

  • - positive trend after all controls ( unexplained trend)

  • - “classic” results for patent characteristics

  • Positive effect of universities’ share of R&D (supply side)

  • No effect of FFO_RATIO

  • Positive effect of IP statute adoption vs no effect of TTO opening


  • Further Italy, 1996-2006research

  • 1) The value of academic patents, by type of ownership

  • Lower? Lissoni and Montobbio (2013) + role of universities in weaker regions

  • Higher? Learningeffect & increasedautonomy ( seeFlemish case)

  • 2) Changesofproperty and marketsforpatents

  • 3) Lessonsforevaluationexercise (e.g. ANVUR)  Whichpatents do count? Whichpatentsshallwecount?

    • University-owned patents are a (non-representative?) subset ofallacademicpatents

    • Counting university-owned patentsmay generate perverse incentives in favourofpatentfiling / aggressive stancestowards business sponsors & faculty

    • Useof public data suchas PatStat / APE-INV


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