The Technology Transfer University Capability: A Case Study From the Triple Helix Perspective




technology-transfer, diffusion of technologies, university-industry, patents, licensing, innovation


The role of universities as innovation agents has received recently considerable attention in academia. As such, this interest is important wherein university, besides the education and research, also can contribute to the economic and social development of society through the generation of innovations. Accordingly, it is important to assess their innovation capability. Even though the current perspective considers the innovation capability of a university thanks to the number of patents produced, from a Schumpeterian perspective, innovation occurs only one invention is commercialized. Based on this perspective, this article introduces a set of indicators to assess the innovation capability of universities, with a focus on the composition of assignees of a patent from the lens of triple helix theory. There are presented three types of indicators to measure the capability of a university to create and license its patents: general; based on the composition of assignees according to the triple helix (university, government, and industry/society); and according to the combination between the composition of patent assignees and the knowledge area. These indicators are validated through a case study in a Brazilian university through a documental analysis. There were analyzed data from 775 patents deposited and licensing agreements of a Brazilian university, ranging from 2011 to 2021. As an empirical result, this research revealed considerable differences in the number of patents deposited and licensed thanks to the type of the patent assignees, as well as their knowledge area. As a theoretical contribution, the framework of assessment of the patents introduced in this article seems to be a useful tool for analyzing the current innovation capability of a university, serving as a starting point to investigate its causes. As a practical implication, the framework introduced in this article can be readily used to assess the innovation capability of universities individually or comparatively.