NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

University Entrepreneurship and Professor Privilege

Erika Farnstrand Damsgaard, Marie C. Thursby

NBER Working Paper No. 17980
Issued in April 2012
NBER Program(s):   PR

This paper analyzes how institutional differences affect university entrepreneurship. We focus on ownership of faculty inventions, and compare two institutional regimes; the US and Sweden. In the US, the Bayh Dole Act gives universities the right to own inventions from publicly funded research, whereas in Sweden, the professor privilege gives the university faculty this right. We develop a theoretical model and examine the effects of institutional differences on modes of commercialization; entrepreneurship or licenses to established firms, as well as on probabilities of successful commercialization. We find that the US system is less conducive to entrepreneurship than the Swedish system if established firms have some advantage over faculty startups, and that on average the probability of successful commercialization is somewhat higher in the US. We also use the model to perform four policy experiments as suggested by recent policy debates in both countries.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17980

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