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Academic patenting is an important part of the larger phenomenon of university-industry technology transfer. Patents are a key tool for protecting inventions and foster innovation in a number of science-based technologies, to which academic scientists contribute both indirectly, by widening their science base, and directly, by producing inventions susceptible of industrial application.


APE-INV's objective is that of  measuring the extent of academic patenting, and studying its determinants, in order to improve our understanding of university–industry relationships, and of their influence on academic researchers’ choice of scientific targets and norms of conduct.


APE-INV builds its activities on an historical and institutional premise, namely that most European universities have for long being prevented from getting involved in IPR management, or have themselves resisted such involvement, either for legal, administrative, or cultural reasons. As a consequence, they hardly appear in official statistics as patent applicants or grantees. It is only by re-classifying patents by inventors, and by discovering whether such inventors belong to the academic research system, that becomes possible to measure the number and importance of the inventions produced by the system itself.


Cleaning and standardizing inventors’ names and addresses, as well as matching them to academic scientists’ names and affiliations, is a scientific enterprise of vast proportions, which poses many practical and methodological challenges. It an be successful only if supported by international co-operation. The APE-INV programme aims at making that co-operation possible. Its outcome will be the creation a research network whose participants  will share existing data, software, and expertise, and produce more when needed. The most tangible output of this co-operation effort will be the first European database of academic patents, one that will allow for cross-country comparisons and for a number of thematic enquiries, on issues such as the value of academic patents, the social ties between academic and non-academic inventors, the mobility of inventors in space and across organizations, and the relationship between patents, scientific advancements, and publications.


The running period of the ESF Research Networking Programme APE-INV is four years, from June 2009 to September 2013.

© 2009 Università Bocconi - European Science Foundation