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ALLEA Statement: ‘The Need for Intellectual Property Rights Strategies at Academic Institutions’.

11 November 2019


PDF icon ALLEA Statement: ‘The Need for Intellectual Property Rights Strategies at Academic Institutions’

This publication formulates recommendations both to scientific organisations and European and national legislators and highlights the importance of managing intangible assets with due consideration of intellectual property rights (IPR).

The increasing relevance of intangible assets, such as computer software or patented technology, in today’s economy requires fundamental rethinking and a cultural change in the management of intellectual property portfolios in scientific organisations just as it does in companies. With its statement, ALLEA addresses this shift of economic relevance from tangible to intangible assets and urges academic institutions to adopt adequate IPR strategies which ensure that knowledge transfer benefits society, for example in public-private partnerships. It also presents options to European and national legislators on ways to incentivise the translation of publicly funded research results into intellectual property-protected innovative products and processes. The statement has been produced by ALLEA’s Permanent Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights, which comprises experts from various disciplines and from academies across Europe.

“Europe risks lagging behind other regions in incentivising knowledge transfer for innovation. Academic institutions and policymakers must prepare better for the pivotal economic shift towards intangible assets and adapt their legal frameworks and academic plans to efficiently respond to these trends”, said Professor Joseph Straus, Chair of the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Intellectual Property Rights.

The statement recommends that academic institutions:

  • Adopt a holistic approach as regards to their intellectual property strategies, in order to remain attractive as partners in public-private partnerships (PPP) or for third party funding.
  • Raise awareness of the importance of IPR for innovation on both the micro- and macroeconomic scale and developing models which adequately remunerate employees in case of a successful commercialisation of research findings.
  • Make available financial and human resources in order to secure in-house structures or external mechanisms to deal with invention disclosures, filing and prosecution of IPRs, as well as the monitoring of granted IPRs.
  • Establish clear rules around the ownership in and handling of IPRs in cases of commercial spin-outs.

The statement furthermore advises that European and national legislators:

  • Devise legal frameworks similar to those adopted in the US, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.
  • Introduce a grace period into patent law, and to consider preferential tax treatment for income generated through commercialisation of publicly funded research.
  • Better support cooperation between academic institutions in the commercialisation of their research results and to optimise cooperation of existing Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs).


ALLEA is the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, representing more than 50 academies from over 40 countries in Europe. Since its foundation in 1994, ALLEA speaks out on behalf of its members on the European and international stages, promotes science as a global public good, and facilitates scientific collaboration across borders and disciplines. Jointly with its Member Academies, ALLEA works towards improving the conditions for research, providing the best independent and interdisciplinary science advice, and strengthening the role of science in society. In doing so, it channels the intellectual excellence and experience of European academies for the benefit of the research community, decision-makers and the public.

About the ALLEA Permanent Working Group Intellectual Property Rights (PWGIPR)

This ALLEA statement has been prepared by ALLEA’s Permanent Working Group Intellectual Property Rights (PWGIPR). Through its Working Groups, ALLEA provides input on behalf of European academies into pressing societal, scientific and science-policy debates and their underlying legislations. With its work, ALLEA seeks to ensure that science and research in Europe can excel and serve the interests of society.

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