Science Market Update

Corporate Funds Spur the Future Academic Innovation

Posted by Anita Zhang on Tue, Apr 22, 2014


The National Institute of Health's budget of $29.15 billion in 2013 was, when adjusted for inflation, $5 billion less than the $27.17 billion available in 2003. During the last decade, especially following the government sequester in late 2013, federal funding of the NIH has steadily declined. Almost all biomedical scientists in the United States have been buffeted by funding swings at the NIH, their field’s primary benefactor. Now scientists are forced to look to other sources of funding.


DNA Genotek is happy to be in Los Angeles for Biotechnology Calendar, Inc.'s trade show.


Funding from private companies raises a controversy about the role of corporations in academic research. Opponents demonstrate that tobacco, food, pharmaceutical and other industries have been shown to manipulate research questions and public discourse for their own benefit and even suppress unfavorable research. About one third of Stanford University’s medical school administrators and department heads have reported financial conflict of interest related to their own research. Opponents also worry that companies may privately hold the results of research and exclude others to exploit them.

Supporters, on the other hand, argue that corporate-sponsored inventions yield patents and licenses more frequently than federally sponsored ones. Corporate-funded inventions yield 5% more licenses and 9% more patents than federally sponsored inventions and conclusions.

Corporate-sponsored inventions are also more highly cited in subsequent patent applications, known as “forward citations.” Each corporate-funded invention generates on average 7.2 more “forward citations” than those that are federally sponsored. This suggests that corporations are funding exploratory research and is counter to the expectation that corporate sponsored inventions have narrow applications, and create few benefits for others.

Corporate-funded inventions are less likely to be exclusive than the federally sponsored inventions. The overall percentage of corporate-sponsored inventions licensed exclusively is 74%, which is lower than the 76% of those with solely public funding.

A $500 million research grant from BP to a Berkeley-led consortium was intended to explore bio-fuels from cellulose in plants or crop residues, an area in which BP had virtually no expertise. In this case, the invention turned out to be informative to other researchers, but irrelevant to the firm’s business strategy.

It is undeniable that private industry will ultimately figure out how to make scientific research profitable and accessible to the masses. The computer industry is an excellent example of this.

University research helped develop the knowledge and technology that resulted in the Internet and computer systems. Now we are all using computers produced by successful IT companies that knew best how to implement this technology. By funding research, companies can continue to support innovation that will result in better, more salable and profitable products for their consumers.

For example, The University of California system accounts for up to 9% of total US academic research expenditures. Of 12,516 inventions and related licenses at nine UC campuses and three associated national laboratories, nearly 12% were supported at least partly by private industries. Private funding is expected to support more academic research in the future. 

American society always encourages entrepreneurialism and profitability. The partnership between the universities and corporations will not only effectively and efficiently help universities make their research accessible to people, but also will provide corporations new profitable opportunities by commercializing new products and services yielded from academic research.

The BioResearch Product Faire™ Events held on many univiersity campuses are great ways for academic researchers and private companies to exchange information about the newest technologies, and to build lasting business relationships. Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. provides this opportunity for laboratory supply companies and academic researchers with our BioResearch Product Faire™ Events held at different institutions throughout the nation.

If you are a lab supply company or an academic researcher, and you would like to know more information about BioResearch Product Faire™ Events, please click this button:

Get The BioResearch Product Faire Event Info


An exhibitor describes the lab products available at their booth.  An exhibitor explains his company's latest research technology.

Tags: 2014, BioResearch Product Faire Event, Biotechnology Vendor Showcase, corporate funds, raise corporate funds, academic research market

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