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ERIC Number: ED557489
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 175
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3038-8219-7
A Policy Framed Analysis of the Valley of Death in U.S. University Technology Transfer
Ferguson, William Ker
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Southern Mississippi
At least as far back as the enactment of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 there has been an ongoing desire on the part of politicians, policy-makers and the public in the U.S., to obtain greater economic returns on the federal investment in publicly funded university research. Today among policy-makers there is an apparent belief that a capital shortage in the mid-stages of technological development is the rate-limiting factor, preventing the maximum flow of university inventive knowledge from entering the marketplace. The consequence is a Valley of Death demise for the vast majority of university inventions. In order to mitigate the problem, changes to federal granting policies are placing increased emphasis on funding more applied and translational research than basic fundamental science. Given the foregoing direction of policy, the study set out to confirm the current understanding of the Valley of Death on the part of policy-makers and relate this understanding to the historical evidence. Consistent with present-day political pronouncements, the study findings verify an overwhelming belief that a shortfall of applied research funding is the root cause of the Valley of Death. Policy-makers believe this shortfall constrains the development of basic research into commercializable products. However, the study also found that this perception is inconsistent with the empirical evidence. The study reveals a gap between these sectors but the gap is independent of the stage of technological development. A funding difference extends the entire length of the research and innovation spectrum, suggesting other factors are responsible for the adoption of university inventions, bringing into question the direction and likely efficacy of current policy initiatives. The findings lend credence to the less cited cause of the Valley of Death, namely a Darwinian Sea of survival of the economically fittest technologies (Auerswald & Branscomb, 2003). The actual stage of development of a university invention will determine the extent of investment funding necessary for its continued development, but economic factors will determine if further investment in its development is warranted. A death does exist for many inventions, but it is the result of natural market causes and not a funding shortfall, per se. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A