Lack of collaboration blamed for poor spin-off record

May 27, 2005

Welsh universities are losing out in the technology transfer market because they are not working with each other and with industry to patent inventions jointly, researchers at Swansea University have found.

A study by Intellectual Property Wales, a business support arm of Swansea's law department, has discovered that unlike universities in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, Welsh institutions do not work together to produce joint patents.

Cardiff University is the only Welsh institution that jointly patents research breakthroughs with others. But none of its partners is in Wales.

Further evidence of an anti-collaborative culture in Wales is found in the fact that trademark and domain name registrations by institutions are deliberately designed to keep other Welsh institutions out, says a report on the findings.

The study also discovered that Welsh universities are significantly behind institutions elsewhere in the UK in working with industry to turn research and development advances into registered patents.

Yet IP Wales found that many more Welsh academics are working with industry, apparently independently of their institutions.

Analysis of "first-named inventors" revealed a much higher number of patents associated with Welsh academics in top-rated departments who have been working with industry than are registered in the names of their institutions.

University spin-off companies failed to account for this anomaly in almost all cases.

Andrew Beale, IP Wales director, said: "What we see in Wales is a significant haemorrhaging of patent applications by institutions that are not working together or in partnership with industry.

"Our research demonstrates that there is no shortage of inventive capacity in Wales."

He added: "Academics are working with industry because they are producing patents for them. It's just that the institutions are not doing the same."

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