University of California

Commercialization of university research brings benefits, raises issues and concerns


William B. Lacy

Author Affiliations

(ed.), Knowledge Generation and Transfer: Implications for the 21st Century ().

Publication Information

Hilgardia 54(4):72-79. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n04p72. July 2000.

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New commercial opportunities, patent laws and federal policies, as well as growth in private-sector research and a relative decline in public-sector funding for agricultural research, have contributed to a changing collaborative relationship between universities and industries. While such partnerships have existed for decades, these new relationships, particularly in agricultural biotechnology, are generally more varied, wider in scope, more aggressive and experimental, and more publicly visible. Examples of UC-industry collaborations include Calgene at UC Davis, Ceres, Inc. at UCLA, and the Novartis alliance at UC Berkeley. On the benefits side, such collaboration may bring useful products to market, promote U.S. technological leadership in the world economy and provide funding and “hands-on” opportunities for students. However, concerns have arisen that such collaborations may narrowly redirect research agendas, disrupt long-term research and create conflicts of interest. For these collaborations to be mutually beneficial, the potential negative consequences must be monitored and addressed aggressively with appropriate policies, practices and organizational arrangements. At the same time, adequate investment for public-sector research will be essential for universities to be a strong and complementary partner.


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Lacy W. 2000. Commercialization of university research brings benefits, raises issues and concerns. Hilgardia 54(4):72-79. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n04p72
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