In recent years, UK universities have become more active in forming spin-out companies as a method of commercialising intellectual property – sometimes too active, suggested the Lambert Review of University-Business Collaboration (2003). Some have been very successful, in the 30 months to the publication of this edition of this guide 21 University spin-outs had floated on public markets, collectively being valued at more that £1billion and raising more that £250million in funds. In a typical transaction, the spin-out company acquires a package of intellectual property from the university.
UK universities have now generated significant income from intellectual property licensing. The traditional model, particularly (but not only) in the pharmaceutical sector, has been to grant exclusive, worldwide licences to major, international companies.
Students are no longer just the passive recipients of a State-sponsored education. They are financial investors in their education (often underwritten by a bank loan), consumers of their university’s educational services (e.g. in the context of consumer protection laws), and valuable assets of their university. The basic educational relationship between university and student is still there, but these new features have been added, like flying buttresses on a medieval cathedral, ugly, but necessary to ensure the cathedral’s long term survival.
In the university sector today, as in many other sectors, there is increasing 6 recognition of the commercial value of the knowledge and skills of its workers. The provision of advice to commercial organisations, based on that knowledge and skill, is now an important goal for many universities. Such provision is often regulated through consultancy agreements (“consultancy agreements” in this Practical Guide).
The purpose of this Practical Guide is three fold:
Of the many kinds of contract that universities encounter, material transfer agreements (“MTAs”) can be the most frustrating: often quite small documents, they can raise big issues in areas as diverse as intellectual property ownership, commercialisation strategy and liability.
This note is a summary of a recent meeting. It represents a personal summary of the event and should not be taken as an official record, which will be produced separately.
A meeting was held in Swindon bringing together the Funding Councils, RCUK and the TSB with a group of PraxisUnico members. The aim of the meeting was to explore mechanisms and approaches to enhance the interaction between the new Catapult centres and the research base. The meeting was held at the request of a working group led by the TSB, in which Alison Campbell is involved as a Board member of PraxisUnico.
PraxisUnico supports the general direction of travel as indicated in the Hargreaves Report and in the Governments response.
We agree that:
a. change is needed;
b. International cooperation and work sharing is essential, particularly across the EU. We agree with working collaboratively with countries within the EU even where a single agreement cannot be reached with all member states (following the recent decisions on EU wide patents);
c. The IPO should have a stronger mandate;