Posted: May 18, 2007

Europe races ahead of US in university-industry collaboration

(Nanowerk News) A Europe-wide survey has found that European collaboration between industry and universities exceeds that of the US.
The survey, by ProTon Europe and funded under the EU's Gate2Growth initiative, compares information from European university knowledge transfer offices affiliated to European Public Research Organisations, with technology transfer data from the American Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).
The survey found the volume of contract research in Europe to be above that of the US for the year 2005; it amounted to €2.8 billion (approx. US$3.7 bn) in Europe, compared to €2.1 billion in the US.
The report found, however, that this advantage was off-set by the US' more advanced knowledge transfer, based on patents and licences.
According to the authors of the report, Europe has traditionally had a collaborative approach to research, based on smaller industrial companies. They argue that this tradition has led to strong framework programmes, such as the EU's current Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for research and development. In contrast, the US has bigger companies with a stronger absorption capacity that are less dependent on collaboration.
The survey shows that almost 25% of research institutions involved in knowledge transfer with industry have no intellectual property patented. It points to the high cost of patents in Europe, where average research expenditure per patent is €4 million for filing, and around €11 million per patent to extend it internationally. The result is that patent filing rates in Europe are one-fifth lower than those of the US. The report suggests that policy-making at both the national and EU levels should focus on creating an efficient and easily accessible patent system in Europe.
The survey also found that the levels of spin-out creation in Europe were comparable to those in the US, but that the success of the spin-outs seemed to be dependent upon market conditions, context and venture capital. They were not dependent on the actions of the research organisations themselves at the stage of initial formation.
ProTon Europe is a pan-European network of Technology Offices linked to Public Research Organisations and Universities. It is supported by the European Commission as part of its Gate2Growth Initiative.
Source: Cordis