Industry-science interaction

Scientists with industry funding deny others access to research inputs

The viability of modern open science norms and practices depends on public disclosure of new knowledge, methods, and materials. However, increasing industry funding of research can restrict the dissemination of results and materials. We show, through a survey sample of 837 German scientists in life sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences, that scientists who receive industry funding are twice as likely to deny requests for research inputs as those who do not. Receiving external funding in general does not affect denying others access. Scientists who receive external funding of any kind are, however, 50 % more likely to be denied access to research materials by others, but this is not affected by being funded specifically by industry.

Czarnitzki, Dirk, Christoph Grimpe and Maikel Pellens (2015), Access to Research Inputs: Open Science versus the Entrepreneurial University, Journal of Technology Transfer, 40, 1050-1063.

Increasing industry funding of research may jeopardize open science

The viability of modern open science norms and practices depend on public disclosure of new knowledge, methods, and materials. Aggregate data from the OECD show a broad shift in the institutional financing structure that supports academic research from public to private sponsorship. This article examines the relationship between industry sponsorship and restrictions on disclosure using individual-level data on German academic researchers. Accounting for self-selection into extramural sponsorship, our evidence strongly supports the perspective that industry sponsorship jeopardizes public disclosure of academic research.

Czarnitzki, Dirk, Christoph Grimpe and Andrew Toole (2015), Delay and Secrecy: Does Industry Sponsorship Jeopardize Disclosure of Academic Research?, Industrial and Corporate Change, 24, 251-279.

Workplace peers and collaborators influence scientists’ engagement with industry

This study explores the role of contemporaneous peer effects in driving an academic’s involvement with industry. Specifically, we examine the influence of workplace peers and personal collaborators and how these effects are moderated by the career age of the scientist. Moreover, we look at situations in which both types of social influence are incongruent and the academic is faced with “dissonance”. Based on survey data of 355 German academics in the field of biotechnology and publication data from the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), we find that the scientist’s involvement with industry increases with the orientation of the scientist’s department toward industry (“localized peer effect”). This effect turns out to be moderated by the scientist’s age, such that the localized peer effect decreases with age and finally turns negative for very senior scientists. Moreover, we find that a scientist’s involvement increases with the industry orientation of the scientist’s co-authors (“personal peer effect”), irrespective of the scientist’s age. In case both types of social influence are incongruent, younger scientists will revert to localized norms while more experienced scientists will orient themselves more toward their personal collaborators.

Aschhoff, Birgit and Christoph Grimpe (2014), Contemporaneous Peer Effects, Career Age and the Industry Involvement of Academics in Biotechnology, Research Policy, 43, 367-381.


Using formal and informal knowledge transfer improves innovation performance

Literature has identified formal and informal channels in university knowledge and technology transfer (KTT). While formal KTT typically involves a legal contract on a patent or on collaborative research activities, informal transfer channels refer to personal contacts and hence to the tacit dimension of knowledge transfer. Research is, however, scarce regarding the interaction of formal and informal transfer mechanisms. In this paper, we analyze whether these activities are mutually reinforcing, i.e., complementary. Our analysis is based on a comprehensive data-set of more than 2,000 German manufacturing firms and confirms a complementary relationship between formal and informal KTT modes: using both transfer channels contributes to higher innovation performance. The management of the firm should therefore strive to maintain close informal relationships with universities to realize the full potential of formal KTT.

Grimpe, Christoph and Katrin Hussinger (2013), Formal and Informal Technology Transfer from Academia to Industry: Complementarity Effects and Innovation Performance, Industry and Innovation, 208, 683-700.


Scientists develop targeted funding strategies

Although competitive funding of public research has been characterised as providing output incentives that raise efficiency and productivity, we know very little about whether the quality of a scientist’s research is in fact the primary award criterion on which funding bodies base their grant decision. This paper provides insights into scientists’ strategies for obtaining project-based research funding in the presence of multiple funding opportunities. It draws a distinction between four types of grants, including the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP6), government, foundation, and industry grants. Based on a sample of more than 800 scientists at universities and public research institutes in Germany, the results indicate that scientist productivity measured in terms of publication and patent stock is a statistically significant determinant only for obtaining foundation and industry grants while the award of an FP6 or government grant is influenced by other characteristics. The results further show that the different grants are not complementary, i.e. scientists specialise in certain grants. In this respect, the analysis informs science, technology and innovation policy about potential discrepancies between policy rhetoric, stipulated award criteria, and actual funding outcomes which makes it possible to fine-tune the debate on how public research should be financed.

Grimpe, Christoph (2012), Extramural Research Grants and Scientists’ Funding Strategies: Beggars Can’t Be Choosers?, Research Policy, 41, 1448-1460.


Internationally mobile scientists engage with industry in the home and host country

Despite the growing interest of scholars and policymakers to better understand the determinants for researchers in public science to transfer knowledge and technology to firms, little is known how temporary international mobility of scientists affects both their propensity to engage in knowledge and technology transfer (KTT) as well as the locus of such transfer. Based on a sample of more than 950 German academics from science and engineering faculties, we investigate how the duration and the frequency of scientists’ visits at research institutions outside their home country affect KTT activities. We find that most mobile scientists engage in KTT to firms both in the host and in their home country, suggesting that KTT activities to firms abroad do not substitute or crowd out, but complement KTT to firms in the home country. We further find that the longer research visits abroad are, the higher the likelihood that scientists engage in KTT to firms, again both in the host and the home country. However, the more frequently scientists visit institutions abroad, the more likely they are to engage in KTT to firms only in their home country. Our results therefore provide evidence for the benefits of “brain circulation”. The article contributes to the growing strand of the literature on scientist mobility and on the determinants of industry–science linkages at the individual level.

Edler, Jakob, Heide Fier and Christoph Grimpe (2011), International Scientist Mobility and the Locus of Knowledge and Technology Transfer, Research Policy, 40, 791-805.


Informal technology transfer: no difference between the U.S. and Germany

Existing literature has confined university technology transfer almost exclusively to formal mechanisms, like patents, licenses or royalty agreements. Relatively little is known about informal technology transfer that is based upon interactions between university scientists and industry personnel. Moreover, most studies are limited to the United States, where the Bay-Dole-Act has shaped the institutional environment since 1980. In this paper, we provide a comparative study between the United States and Germany where the equivalent of the Bay-Dole-Act has come into force only in 2002. Based on a sample of more than 800 university scientists, our results show similar relationships for the United States and Germany. Faculty quality which is however based on patent applications rather than publications serves as a major predictor for informal technology transfer activities. Hence, unless universities change their incentives (e.g., patenting as one criterion for promotion and tenure) knowledge will continue to flow out the backdoor.

Grimpe, Christoph and Heide Fier (2010), Informal Technology Transfer from Academia to Industry: A Comparison between Germany and the U.S, Journal of Technology Transfer, 35, 637-650.