In this monograph I ask: Does university involvement in the research of private firms enhance the firm's private gains as well as society's public gains? To address this question I analyzed, in an exploratory manner, data relevant to firm-based research projects funded by the U.S. Small Business Innovation (SBIR) program. The data suggest that when a university is involved in a Phase II SBIR project it does realize private gains in the form of greater patenting activity and greater employment growth. However, university involvement is not related to such public gains descriptors as the likelihood that the technology from the SBIR project will be commercialized, the likelihood that the developed technology will be licensed to other U.S. entities, or the likelihood that the firm will enter into a research and development agreement with other U.S. entities. I conclude from my study that firms that receive SBIR research awards are very strategic about involving a university as a research partner. Perhaps such firms only involve universities in activities through which they can appropriate most, if not all, of the related benefits.
Capturing Knowledge explores the extent to which knowledge transferred from a university to a firm or group of firms through a research partnership results in short-term private gains to a firm as well as to long-term public gains to society. It is descriptive in nature with the goal to appeal not only to academic researchers but also to reach students and learned individuals. Following a brief review of the extant academic literature Section 2, Section 3 summarizes the Small Business Innovation Act of 1982, which created the U.S. Small Business Innovation (SBIR) program. Descriptive information about universities as research partners in SBIR projects is presented in Section 4. The descriptive empirical analyses presented in Section 5 focus on the impact of university research partnerships on the performance of SBIR-funded projects and firms. They emphasize the private gains to the firm from its research involvement with a university and explore the presence of public gains. Concluding remarks are offered in Section 6.