While India's advantage in high - end human capital may be primarily attributed to its long standing policy thrust on higher education (especially technical and scientific education) that created an extensive network of universities and institutions of higher learning, Indian academia did not contribute adequately to the process of technological learning and catch - up by Indian industry. Even though universities and institutions in India have been quite active in their research pursuits, sometimes with immense potential for commercial applications, university-industry interface has remained sub - optimal. Therefore, avenues for harnessing the rich research potential of universities and research laboratories for industrial applications are being seriously considered in India. It is in this context that new policy initiatives have been contemplated to institutionalise Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the academic sector to create dual incentives for innovations as well as their commercialisation along the lines of the Bayh - Dole Act of 1980 in the US. The Bayh - Dole Act, for the first time, allowed universities to retain patent titles and offer exclusive licenses on innovations generated out of federally funded university research projects. This study was conceived in-house at ICRIER to thoroughly understand the US context and experience and analytically examine the drivers of academic research in India to draw concrete policy lessons.
The study suggests that US experience of university - industry technology transfer after reforms in IPR laws targeting federally funded research at universities and laboratories have been mixed and ambiguous. Econometric analysis of survey data for India in this study confirms that streamlining IPR may not act as a magic formula and the expected impact of a Bayh - Dole type legislation in India will depend on the overall context, nature and culture of public - funded research in India. The study offers useful insights that need to be taken into account before the Indian legislation is passed. The study resulted in two ICRIER working papers and has been presented in ICRIER as well as in academia and policy fora as invited lectures / seminars with effective reach to a wide - ranging audience.