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Entrepreneurial Professors and Secrecy in Science: Variations and Impact

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  1. Entrepreneurial Professors and Secrecy in Science: Variations and Impact Karen Seashore Louis University of Minnesota Eric G Campbell Harvard University

  2. Faculty Entrepreneurs and Secrecy: What are the Issues? • Entrepreneurship is common practice in academic life sciences • Bayh-Dole encourages commercial application • State legislatures want universities to play a key role in economic development • Many public universities see technology transfer as a potential source of funds to offset declining state contributions • Faculty see commercial activities as a mechanism to offset the wage differential between academia and industry

  3. What are the issues? • Secrecy is related to entrepreneurship • Blumenthal et al research has shown commercial activities are associated with: • Trade secrecy • Denials of requests for information, data and materials related to published research • Negative effects on graduate education • Universities are concerned about conflict of commitment • Increased reporting requirements • oversight in some institutions on both time and money

  4. What are the ethical issues? • Why is secrecy a problem for science policy and practice? • Reduces ability to replicate published research • Reduces ability to extend published research • Negative effect on graduate training • Reduces shared sense of purpose • Likely results in inefficiencies in the research system.

  5. Research Questions • What are there different types of entrepreneurship among life scientists? • What is the relationship between entrepreneurial behavior and experiences with secrecy within the scientific community? • What individual and career factors, including secrecy, predict entrepreneurship?

  6. Methods • NIH funded study of Secrecy in Science (Blumenthal, Campbell, et al, 2006; Vogeli, et al, 2006; Louis, et al, 2002) • Sample of 2893 life scientists (faculty) at the 100 most research-intensive U.S. universities • 1849 responded (64%)

  7. Question #1: Are There Entrepreneurial Types? • 16 Items indicating entrepreneurial behavior (last 3 years): • Company Founder • Officer/Exec. Board Member Of A Company • Scientific Advisory Bd Member • Consultant For Pay • Research Led To Patent Application • Research Led To Patent Issued • Research Led To Patent Licensed • Research Led To Trade Secrets • Research Led To Product Under Review • Research Led To Product On Market • Research Led To Start-up • Getting Royalties • Getting Equity • Getting Industry $ For Students • Getting Gifts For Research • Getting Grants/Contracts

  8. Question #1: Factor Analysis • Four distinct factors emerged: • Research Entrepreneurs: High loadings on items involving research funding from industry • Innovation Entrepreneurs: High loadings on items involving patenting and early-stage commercialization • Commercializing Entrepreneurs: Having products in the market and receiving royalties. • Leadership Entrepreneurs: High loadings on items involving founding or directing companies • The four factors account for 53% of the variance in the 16 items. • FACTOR ANALYSIS.entrepreneur.doc

  9. Q2: The Relationship between Entrepreneurship and Secrecy • Two variables: • Don’t Ask – a single question: • How often have you refrained from asked other scientists for information because you think that you will be denied? • A four point scale, with 1=often and 4= never. Mean/SD= 3.02/.93. • Deny – the individual’s response to requests forseven types of information (lab techniques, findings, phenotype information, genetic sequences, biomaterials, research tools or other). • A four point scale for each was recoded into a yes/no • Items were added to obtain a total “denying” score; 14% of the respondents reported having denied or significantly delayed a request.

  10. Q3: Entrepreneurship and Secrecy • CORRELATIONS.SECRECY&ENTREP.DOC • Innovative and Commercializing Entrepreneurs – those who are patenting or bringing their own research to market – are more likely to deny other’s requests. • Research Entrepreneurs are not hesitant to ask others for information, but Innovative, Leadership, and Commercializing Entrepreneurs are significantly more likely to say that they don’t ask.

  11. Q 3: What Predicts Research Entrepreneurship? • RESEARCH ENTREP REGRESSION.DOC • In sum, the research entrepreneur is a scientist whose research involves human subjects, is male, a typical “highly productive” in traditional faculty roles, while also engaging in innovative entrepreneurial activities. • Research Entrepreneurs are much less likely than others to indicate that they don’t ask for information from other scientists.

  12. Q2: What Predicts Innovative Entrepreneurs? • INNOV ENTRE REGRESSION.doc • In sum, the Innovative Entrepreneur is likely to be male, highly published, and unlikely to be involved in any other form of entrepreneurship. • Innovative Entrepreneurs are much more likely to indicate that they have denied or delayed requests for materials and information.

  13. Q2: What Predicts Commercializing Entrepreneurs? • COMMERC ENTREP REGRESSION.rtf • In sum, commercializing faculty conduct research using human subjects, are highly productive in traditional faculty roles (publishing, supporting students), and work in collaborative groups. They are also less likely to be research and innovation entrepreneurs. • Commecializing entrepreneurs are not more llikely to deny materials to others, nor to ask for other’s materials and data/information.

  14. Q2: What Predicts Leadership Entrepreneurs? • LEADERSHIP ENTREP REGRESSION.rtf • In sum, the model does not predict leadership entrepreneurial activity well. Becoming involved in founding or running companies is, apparently, rather idiosyncratic. • Leadership entrepreneurs are much more likely indicate that they don’t ask other scientists for information and materials.

  15. Summary • The four forms of entrepreneurship are distinct, and do not represent a developmental path for individuals • Research entrepreneurs are best viewed as outstanding bench scholars in a traditional mode. • Innovation and Commercializing entrepreneurs probably represent different disciplines (those using human subjects and those who do not) • Leadership entrepreneurs cannot be predicted; becoming a leadership entrepreneur is not explained by the factors in our model.

  16. Implication.... • Confirms previous research: some kinds of entrepreneurship are associated with secrecy. • Commercializers and innovators are “selling things” and are more likely to be secretive.. • Secrecy is a fundamental component of the marketing of research

  17. Implication.... • Openness is a scientific value; applying science is a social and economic value • If we limit or reduce secrecy will we depress innovating and commercializing entrepreneurial activities, which are socially valued? • Increasing translational research activities in universities may, inevitably, increase secrecy

  18. Policy Issues for Oversight... • Do we need more information about how entrepreneurial activities are affecting science... • Delays? • Patenting and material transfers? • Costs to research programs in high social priority areas (genetics as a prime example) • Should federal policy mandate openness -- require deposit of all biomaterials prior to publication? • How effective are current educational programs in dealing with entrepreneurialism and secrecy? • How do current university conflict of interest and oversight policies distinguish different types of entrepreneurship?