Directors of university knowledge-transfer offices earn as much as leading professors, a study has revealed.
Researchers at Kingston University have carried out the first survey of pay and incentives for technology-transfer staff.
It shows that the majority of technology-transfer office (TTO) directors earn between £65,000 and £100,000 a year.
Most deputy directors pocket between £45,000 and £65,000, and almost half of all technology-transfer managers surveyed earned between £35,000 and £45,000 a year. Administrators fared less well - almost half of those polled earned just £20,000-£25,000 a year.
Alongside pay differentials, the survey, commissioned by Unico, the knowledge-transfer association, uncovered a gender gap in the sector.
The role of TTO director is overwhelmingly dominated by men, who make up 80 per cent of those in the post. Women are more prominent in knowledge-transfer marketing and administration roles.
The survey discovers that only one third of universities have incentive schemes to reward knowledge-transfer staff, such as financial recognition for bringing in money or sealing partnerships.
Funding for such schemes, where they are in place, came from the Higher Education Funding Council for England's Higher Education Innovation Fund or licences rather than universities' core funds.
Cathy Garner, chief executive of Manchester:Knowledge Capital, a partnership of Greater Manchester's universities, local authorities, public agencies and businesses, said she expected the gender discrepancy to be short lived.
"The balance may shift, acknowledging the move from deal-making to a relationship-building culture, the latter being a skill in which women tend to excel," she said.
Oisin McNamara, chair of the Association of University Research and Industry Links, agreed.
"The labour market pool should change quite considerably for the younger age brackets, so I would hope and expect to see some changes in the gender balance coming through quite quickly," Dr McNamara said.