Is the US outperforming Europe in university technology licensing? A new perspective on the European Paradox

Annamaria Conti*, Patrick Gaule

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Europe is perceived to be lagging behind the US in converting its academic results into economic outcomes. Using new survey data on European and US technology transfer offices (TTOs), we find that differences in academic research, TTO staff and experience explain to a great extent the gap between the US and Europe in terms of the number of license agreements concluded. However, these factors account for only part of the difference in license income. We relate the difference in licensing income to differences in the organization and staffing of TTOs. Our analysis reveals that US TTOs do not attach more importance to generating revenue as an objective than their European counterparts. However, they employ more staff with experience in industry which explains some of the remaining differential in license income performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-135
Number of pages13
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank seminar participants at the CEMI Research Day, Bocconi University and the 2009 DRUID Conference (Copenhagen) for their interaction and comments. We are indebted to Thomas Astebro, Dominique Foray, Francesco Lissoni, Marie Thursby, Reinhilde Veugelers and especially Jerry Thursby for insightful discussions and advice. Fatou Coulibaly, Tatiana Benavides and Ilka Terrahe provided outstanding research assistance. Data collection for this project was funded by the Chair in Economics and Management of Innovation at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. Annamaria Conti acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics


  • European Paradox
  • Technology licensing
  • Technology transfer
  • University


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