May 19, 2008
Throughout Europe, barriers to collaboration between the public and private sectors – in particular when it comes to sharing revenues and cost – persist. They prevent the exploitation of public-funded research and the transformation of findings into patents and innovations generating growth.
While science has become increasingly important for innovation and thus competitiveness, the European Commission argues that “making better use of publicly funded R&D is a significant problem” in the EU.
Increasing access to knowledge by sharing research results and improving knowledge transfer between public research and industry was identified, in April 2007, as one of the objectives of the relaunched European Research Area (ERA). A Commission Communication on improving knowledge transfer between research institutions and industry across Europe calls for better exploitation of research results and reveals that an average university in Europe generates far fewer inventions and patents compared to its North American counterpart.
EU member states have introduced a number of initiatives to facilitate knowledge transfer between public research organisations and the private sector, including legislative changes, guidelines and model contracts – without much success.
A Commission-led stakeholder consultation on existing knowledge-transfer systems and the legal situation regarding transnational research co-operation identified three major obstacles to transnational research collaboration:
- Cultural differences;
- regulatory differences, and;
- difficulties in finding partners.
For these reasons, both public- and private-sector actors consider short-term co-operation to be unattractive and complicated and would consider transnational collaboration of interest only if it is part of a long-term, structured alliance.