I recently came across an interesting research paper that details the potential reasons that corporate R&D has seen a decline in activity and was left feeling very positive about how shifts in industry behavior have changed the opportunity for research in academia or elsewhere. Between 1980-2007, the number of patent declarations from industry has decreased but the total number of total patents declared has not declined. Furthermore the age of technology used in products is not getting older.
The authors point out two overarching reasons for this decline in internal research (& development):
- The rise of small research startups and;
- Considerations of commercially minded corporate R&D managers.
I think they are missing out on something else entirely, consumer behavior, where the speed at which a successful company innovates is off the essence, but that is a different topic entirely. Other notable hypothesis came up – are corporations publishing less to protect their IP? While this could have something to do with the declining numbers, it would not be significant, but worth noting.
Boiled down, we are finding that corporations have started spending more time on the D [development] and less time on the R [research] in R&D. Subsequently outsourcing basic research. Which lends well as studies have shown that that researchers are more productive when they are working in a less structured environment [like a university setting] so managing them and providing appropriate support can prove difficult for both parties.
What does this mean for university researchers? For budding scientific entrepreneurs?
Now, more than ever, industry is looking to make partnerships with universities, PIs and scientific startups. They have learned that they can accelerate innovation with technology scouting. But what are the ways to take advantage of this opportunity and what does this information mean for your startup or research?
Next week, we will discuss how research institutions and startups alike can take advantage of this opportunity.
In the meantime, get a jumpstart on the power of scientific startups and check out our infographic on how university startups and spinouts help your TTO.