I have written this blog along side guest author Rebecca Villis, IPO’s Head of Innovation Policy. It outlines the first major evaluation of the impact of the Lambert Toolkit , developed in 2005 to provide model licensing agreements to aid university-business research collaboration. The real strength of this evaluation was the partnership formed by Agnes and Rebecca with the Association for University Research and Industry Links (AURIL), the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), PraxisUnico and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).
The Toolkit includes model agreements that can help facilitate negotiations over who owns what intellectual property (IP) generated in collaborative research. The evaluation project looked at how it has been used, who it has been used by, what impact it has had and whether there is room for improvement.
Open innovation is happening now more than ever before. For those not familiar with the term, open innovation is an idea developed by the US economist Henry Chesborough - which suggests that innovative businesses should collaborate with others outside their organisation to access the knowledge and skill necessary to bring a new product to the market.
This is not a new concept. There are many historic examples of innovators looking outward. For example, Gatorade was invented at the University of Florida in the late 1960s and patented with the Stokely-Van Camp company. But the increasing complexity and availability of knowledge means that businesses now innovate more successfully with less reliance on internal knowledge alone. IP plays an invaluable role in this, helping organisations maximise the value of their innovation.
The IP Pragmatics research shows that those in the research and innovation space are well aware of the Toolkit, but that business, particularly SME, awareness is lower. The Toolkit is valued as a good, solid foundation for negotiation and an independent exemplar of a fair and reasonable approach. Although the agreements are not often used 'off the shelf', the principles behind Lambert are more widely adopted. The agreements have simplified the process of agreeing contracts, saving both time and money.
So if it is doing so well, what more can be done? The agreements need updating to reflect modern legal practice and the more flexible needs of collaborative research where both sides undertake research on different aspects of the collaborative programme. IP Pragmatics also stresses the need to communicate the best use of the existing tools, targeting them at the organisations that need them the most, and to promote appropriate use of the Toolkit, both nationally and internationally.
So why are we blogging about this? We want you to tell us your experience of the Toolkit. The good and the bad, and what you think can be done to improve it. This research will next be discussed at the PraxisUnico conference in June.
If you have questions or feedback, do comment on this blogpost and we’ll do our best to respond.