ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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To Patent or Not?

Factors and Motivation Affecting Indian Academic Patenting

India has undertaken many regulatory and legislative reforms to promote innovation and patent protection by universities and academic institutions. To achieve this broader policy objective, it is crucial to identify factors and motivations that drive academic researchers to file patent applications. We provide an empirical estimation of the extent to which patenting by academic institutions in India is affected by factors like institutional policy frameworks, departmental differences, and individual researchers’ characteristics. Using the Heckprobit estimation method and zero-inflated binary outcome techniques, we find that the absence of supportive institutional infrastructure, coupled with making patents a mandatory criterion for career advancement, results in low patent application probability and intensity.

Universities are widely recognised as a crucial part of national innovation systems as they contribute to knowledge creation and growth (Anselin et al 1997; Ouellette and Tutt 2020). Stimulating patenting and an entrepreneurial culture in universities are important for encouraging technology transfer and commercialisation (Baldini et al 2007; Owen-Smith and Powell 2001; Huang and Chen 2017). National governments in emerging economies are encouraging universities to nationally and internationally file patents using various measures (Hoc and Trong 2019; Iizuka and Hollanders 2017; Auranen and Nieminen 2010). In this regard, India adopted the performance-based funding mechanism for institutes in 2002–03 (Sen 2004) and launched the Atal Innovation Mission in 2015–16 to improve research and development (R&D) and promote an entrepreneurial culture within universities. Despite these policy changes, the contribution of academic institutions in the Indian intellectual property application landscape is very limited (Jain et al 2020a, 2020b). Further, the scholarly literature lacks empirical evidence from developing countries on the impact of institutional policies, reward mechanisms, the nature of departments, and individuals’ characteristics on patent application.

Within a university context, Mansfield (1995) and Arundel (2001) identify department-specific variations in patent-application intensity, but the specific characteristics of the department that affect such intensity remain largely unexplored. Moreover, studies that explore patent application behaviour in public-funded academic institutions do not identify why scientists in these institutions prefer not to file a patent application. The extant research focuses only on researchers who file patents (Azoulay et al 2007; Burhan et al 2017). Moreover, self-selection biases may arise in patent-related surveys due to factors like belonging to a particular department or institute, which may lead to the over- or under-estimation of results (Kyvik 1990). The possibility of self-selection bias is also not addressed in the survey-based studies of patents (Sellenthin 2009). The paper addresses these gaps.

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Updated On : 14th Feb, 2023
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