Harnessing Public Research for Innovation in the 21st Century

Today, more than ever, universities and public research institutes play a crucial role in enabling the scientific breakthroughs and innovations in the marketplace.

The central questions of this book by WIPO and Cambridge University Press are:

  • How can innovation actors and policymakers improve the efficiency of knowledge transfer practices to help maximize innovation-driven growth and seek practical solutions to societal challenges?
  • What works and what does not?
  • How do you better measure the related impacts – on the institutional and country level?

In response, the book proposes a framework to evaluate knowledge transfer practices, improve knowledge transfer metrics and evaluation frameworks, generate findings on what does and does not work, and offer policy lessons. It does so based on studies and insights from three developed and three emerging economies: the United Kingdom, Germany, Republic of Korea, Brazil, China, and South Africa.

The book reflects WIPO’s larger support program for universities and research institutions to use IP as a tool for advancing transfer of promising research outcomes for stimulating effective use of  knowledge transfer in view of economic growth and sustainable futures. For more information, see WIPO’s website on Universities and IP.

  • A guide to maximizing the impact of work done at public research institutions and universities to boost innovation and growth
  • Suggests the most effective policies to support the transfer of knowledge to firms
  • Lays the critical groundwork for future empirical work and the development of success metrics
  • Written by academics, policymakers and practitioners

PART I Setting the Context

1 The Evolving Role of Public R&D and Public Research Organizations in Innovation
2 Evaluating Knowledge Transfer Policies and Practices: Conceptual Framework and Metrics
3 Measuring Global Patenting of Universities and Public Research Institutes

PART II Selected Comparative Country Studies

4-9 United Kingdom, Germany, Republic of Korea, Brazil, China and South Africa

PART III The Way Forward

10 Policies and Practices for Supporting Successful Knowledge Transfer from Public Research to Firms
11 Policy Recommendations: Aiming for Effective Knowledge Transfer Policies in High- and Middle-Income Countries
12 Toward a Comprehensive Set of Metrics for Knowledge Transfer


Enabling access to cutting-edge research is vital to tackling the challenges countries face. It is thus ever more important to identify which knowledge transfer practices work and which do not. This research is critical in this regard.

Pippa Hall,
Director of Innovation,
Intellectual Property Office,
United Kingdom
“This book represents a major step towards reaching a systematic approach to the measurement of knowledge transfer practices and outcomes.”
Hu Zhijian,
Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development
“Going forward, knowledge transfer will play a pivotal role in driving future growth in Africa. We welcome this book and encourage the African measurement community to invest in related metrics.”
Philippe Kuhutama Mawoko,
former Executive Secretary,
African Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation,
African Union Commission
“Unlike most existing work in this area, this book emphasizes that firms benefit from academic research not only through formal but also more informal channels and from open science, and the tensions and complementarities between these two.”
Bhaven Sampat,
Associate Professor,
Columbia University