Patents are preferred by European universities and public research organisations to exploit their inventions

A study carried out by the European Patent Office has revealed that patents are the most popular route used by European universities and public research organisations to exploit their research results

Research institutions already commercialise more than one third (36%) of the inventions for which they have led a patent application with the EPO. Licensing is by far their preferred commercialisation channel (70% of commercialised inventions). They report setting up a spin-off company as a motive for 41% of commercialised inventions.

Interestingly, the study found that commercialisation partners include SMEs and large companies in equal proportions (around 40% each). Most of the successful collaborations (74%) involve partners from the same country and only 27% partners across European borders.

Failure to find interested partners is reported as the
third most important reason for failed or planned commercialisation (38%). Lack of resources is also mentioned as an important reason for non-exploitation for 25% of patented inventions. The main challenge for the conclusion of successful exploitation deals is the complexity of negotiations, which is considered as “important” or “very important” for 35% of patented inventions, with little variation across geographical regions.

This study was based on 686 interviews conducted with 241 European universities and public research organisations, and provides detailed information on their patented inventions, commercialisation patterns, and the challenges faced by research institutions in bringing them to market. It also looks at the role of technology transfer and licensing offices responsible for the exploitation of patents.

Read the full study here