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Curiosity-Driven Research and University Technology Transfer

University Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer

ISBN: 978-0-76231-230-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-359-4

Publication date: 11 August 2005


The debate about university technology transfer policy would benefit from increased attention to two parts of the technology transfer equation: the societal purpose of basic scientific research and the characteristics of scientific researchers.11This Chapter was prepared for the Colloquium on University Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer hosted by the Karl Eller Center of the University of Arizona and sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. I am grateful to them for their support. I am also grateful to the participants in the Colloquium for helpful comments. Finally, I thank my research assistant, David Zelner, for assistance with this project. One purpose of curiosity-driven research is to provide a demand function that can serve as a proxy for the socially optimal (but unknowable) demand function for the unpredictable research that is necessary for long-term technological progress. Preserving the curiosity-driven research peer review “market” is thus important for that progress. This analysis highlights the importance of adequate funding for curiosity-driven research. A model of typical university scientists’ preferences can be used to assess how technology transfer policies may affect the social norms of the research community and the long-term viability of the curiosity-driven research endeavor. The analysis suggests that patenting will be an ineffective technology transfer mechanism unless researchers are precluded from using patenting to maintain control over follow-on research.


Strandburg, K.J. (2005), "Curiosity-Driven Research and University Technology Transfer", Libecap, G.D. (Ed.) University Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer (Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Growth, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 93-122.



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