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The survey of the National R&D Council at the Ministry of Science: an 11% increase in university patent applications

The survey dealt with the activities of knowledge commercialization companies near seven research universities and companies near hospitals and government research institutes. The role of the companies is to mobilize, market and develop the accumulated knowledge in universities and hospitals, protect the invention by registering a patent and turn the patent into a commercial product.

patents. Illustration: shutterstock
Patents. Illustration: shutterstock

A survey by the National R&D Council at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space carried out by the CBS shows that in the years 2011-2010 there was an 11% increase in the number of patent applications submitted to knowledge commercialization companies near the research universities, compared to the years 2009-2008.

The survey dealt with the activities of knowledge commercialization companies near seven research universities and companies near hospitals and government research institutes. The role of the companies is to mobilize, market and develop the accumulated knowledge in universities and hospitals, protect the invention by registering a patent and turn the patent into a commercial product.

Every year the university researchers submit about 500 inventions to the knowledge commercialization companies next to the universities. In 2010 and 2011, 430 applications for patents were submitted by commercialization companies. The number of patent applications submitted by the commercialization companies near the universities increased from 395 in 2008 to 438 in 2011 - an increase of about 11%.

In addition to the inventions tested at the universities, the survey also examined the inventions submitted by researchers and doctors to knowledge commercialization companies near the hospitals and government research institutes. In this sector, about 200 inventions were submitted in 2010 and 2011. The number of patent applications submitted by these companies is 120 in these years.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Space Jacob Perry said that "the survey proves that the universities and hospitals engaged in research make a real financial contribution to the growth of the economy, in addition to the basic academic research. The universities and hospitals must continue to support both knowledge and research personnel in order to continue this positive trend, a trend that also increases their income.'

An international comparison shows that the number of applications for patents in universities in Australia is about 580 per year and in the USA more than 6,000 per year. In relation to patent applications compared to the universities' own expenditures for R&D in these countries, it appears that in Israel this ratio is high and stands at 0.72 compared to 0.22 in Australia and 0.19 in the USA. "The meaning of the figure is that in relation to the Israeli investment in research and development in universities, we receive a very high percentage of inventions that are protected as a patent," explains Haim Russo, chairman of the committee for academia-industry relations in the National R&D Council of the Ministry of Science.

Examining the applications by field shows that the dominant field in the submission of original applications for patents (both by the universities and by the hospitals and research institutes) was biotechnology, drugs and medical devices - 464 applications in the last two years. In 2010 about 47% of all applications were in this area, and in 2011 about 49% of all applications. In the field of chemistry and nanotechnology, 137 applications were submitted in these years; In mathematics and computer science, 103 applications were submitted; in physics and electro-optics 72 applications; in "clean" technology and environmental quality 64 applications; in agriculture and plant genetics 44 applications; in bio-informatics 2 applications; and other requests - 77.

The most common way to commercialize knowledge is through license agreements. The number of new license agreements signed in 2011 was 171 agreements, most of them (123) with knowledge commercialization companies near the universities. This, compared to 305 license agreements in Australia and 5,398 in the USA. The number of license agreements in Israel, in relation to the total expenditure on R&D, is higher than in the USA and Australia.

Out of all the license agreements that were valid in Israel in 2011, 138 generated royalties in 2011, of which 70 companies in Israel and 68 companies abroad. The revenues of the knowledge societies (both the universities and the hospitals and research institutes) from the sale of intellectual property - including the sale of patents, royalties, options or license fees - amounted in 2010 to 1,642 million NIS and in 2011 to 1,680 million NIS. According to these data, there was an increase of about 2.3% in 2011 compared to 2010. Most of the revenue came from Israeli companies that used patents: 72% in 2011 and 64% in 2010.

In 2011, 16 start-up companies were established based on technology developed by researchers at universities and hospitals. This, compared to 15 in universities in Australia, 134 in universities in Great Britain and 617 in universities in the USA. In relation to the national expenditure on R&D in universities, the situation is similar to that of the USA and higher than in Australia and Great Britain.

The chairman of the National Council for R&D at the Ministry of Science, Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Israel, summarized the report and said: "The report points to positive trends both in the overflow of new ideas by researchers, both in the number of subjects with potential for commercialization and in the scope of actual commercialization with emphasis to commercialize the Israeli industry. The data is further proof of the decisive weight of research in universities in everything related to our technological, security and economic power".

One response

  1. In light of the increase in patent applications, it is time to do a home inspection at the Patent Authority. One of the points that bothers me is the fact that the law grants the patent registrar both the authority of a categoryr and the authority of a judge. That is, when an applicant for a patent reaches a point where he does not agree with an examiner's decision, the person who will review the appeal is the boss of that examiner. It is true that a patent applicant has the right to turn to the legal system, but this, as we know, does not tend to overturn the decisions of a lower court, just as the registrar is reluctant to overturn the decisions given to him, and just as the police is reluctant to investigate itself.
    Therefore, the time has come to enact a law according to which a supreme appeal committee for patent matters will be established, which will be able to overturn the decisions of the patent registrar, or at least return a patent application to the examination track with a different examiner team, and this even before going to court. Such a committee should include at least one patent attorney, at least one professional in the field of invention, and a senior examiner of the Patent Authority, provided that he had no involvement in that case. Although the period of the previous registrar Meir Noam was a period of Eden for the patent system in Israel, this system is not always lucky enough to be headed by a person of his own age or higher. Therefore, part of the powers of the patent registrar must be taken and transferred to a committee.

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