Commercialization of university innovation in South Africa
Globally, commercialization of university innovation has increased and gained in interest by universities, industry and politicians. The idea of marketing innovation produced by universities is the practice embraced in most advanced economies. However, government’s investment in R&D have not generated the anticipated return. A gap has been identified between innovation developed from publicly financed research and the failure to convert these findings into tangible outcomes. This thesis reports on an investigation of the reasons for the current low rate of commercialization of innovations at South African universities, with a view to increasing this rate. From a survey of intellectual property and technology transfer (IP&TTO) managers and interviews with individual innovators, the main contributory factors were found to be a lack of support from university management, insufficient incentives for innovators, limited access to funding opportunities, institutional bureaucratic regulations and an inefficient system of decision making with regards to intellectual property. Accordingly, the critical measures which can be modified in order to build university IP&TTO success are senior executive support for innovation and commercialization activity, a greater share of financial rewards to individual innovators and a streamlined decision making procedures concerning intellectual property assets. University, government and industry executives need to demonstrate genuine support for research and innovation development activity over the long term, allocate the necessary resources required for its success, and implement a long term strategy for intellectual property.