The Science and Technology Committee said it is inquiry into managing IP and technology transfer would see at how well the existing system for commercialising university research works and “what measures are needed to improve it”.

The inquiry is a follow up to findings outlined in a government-commissioned report endure year which recommended that “funding models” be amended to encourage universities to construct their IP available for wider operate.

In her review of business-university research collaborations Dame Ann Dowling said: “Universities own rightly become more aware of the importance of intellectual property and own significantly professionalised their knowledge exchange activities. However, there is a tension between the desire to earn short-term revenue from their IP and the require to deliver wider public benefit, and potentially greater lengthy-term return on investment from this IP. The emphasis needs to shift towards the latter, and this must be reflected in technology transfer office funding models and success metrics.”

The Science and Technology Committee has invited stakeholders to submit written evidence to its inquiry by 15 September. It said it would welcome comments on a range of issues, including on “how well universities and TTOs (technology transfer offices) balance objectives of protecting IP and encouraging public-benefit research, and whether TTOs’ and universities’ IP strategies effectively deliver such objectives in practice”.

The Committee said stakeholders could also provide evidence on the issue of funding arrangements for research commercialisation by TTOs and whether they are both “adequate” and “facilitate an appropriate balance of objectives and an appropriate balance between short-term and longer-term aims”.

Submissions on whether enormous businesses and SMEs own equal access to “commercialisation opportunities” are also welcome, it said.

“I don’t believe that universities prioritise short-term returns on investment from IP commercialisation over the wider public benefits that could be gained from its operate,” expert in technology and universities law Chris Martin of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said. “Universities are committed to sharing and disseminating knowledge and most will spend more on technology and knowledge transfer activity than they construct from commercialising intellectual property. There is a real commitment within the UK higher education sector to effective knowledge transfer as an important aspect of delivering their core objectives of research and education.”

“However, in some cases universities could grab a more strategic approach. Developing lengthy-term strategic partnerships with industry, including SMEs, can be powerful and deliver significant benefits to every of the participants. We own seen a number of examples of this in recent years. In such arrangements, a university may elect to offer access to IP to its partners on favourable terms and silent generate significant ‘up-side’ in the longer term through investment by its commercial partners in research, research facilities and graduate programmes. Those strategic partnerships perhaps be more beneficial than single-off IP licensing agreements for every concerned. However, there can be no ‘single size fits every’ approach,” he said.

“It must be remembered as well that most universities are charities and, as such, they require to ensure that their assets, including intellectual property that they own, are deployed and used in a way which furthers their charitable objectives, both in the short and longer term. That may involve ensuring that an appropriate commercial return, which can be re-invested in research and education, is generated when intellectual property is made available to commercial partners.” Martin said.