A new Irish higher education review has set out a number of recommendations for strengthening intellectual property policies and procedures in the country’s university sector.
The Review of Intellectual Property Management and Conflicts of Interest, commissioned by the Higher Education Authority in partnership with Knowledge Transfer Ireland, examined the policies of 22 institutions – seven universities, 14 institutes of technology and one specialist college – through questionnaires and in-depth interviews. While recognising many areas of good practice, it pointed to a number of concerns, primarily in relation to conflicts of interest and spin-out companies.
The review called, for example, for all higher education institutions to develop “a single IP policy covering all major commercialisation routes…to make it simple for researchers to understand the processes and their obligations”. This would include both “a clear description of decision-making processes” and “a dispute resolution procedure”, it said.
It was also essential to determine and agree “the relative contributions from multiple creators of intellectual property…as part of the invention disclosure process”, and to confirm this before commercialisation, according to the review.
Although it acknowledged that “the individual circumstances surrounding the formation of [spin-offs]” were very variable, the review also called for “a common set of national principles that explain the basis upon which equity shares are taken”.