Original Research

Factors affecting researcher participation in technology commercialisation: A South African university case study

Margaret D.M. Cullen, Andre P. Calitz, Mary-Ann Chetty
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 12, No 1 | a329 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v12i1.329 | © 2020 Margaret D.M. Cullen, Andre P. Calitz, Mary-Ann Chetty | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 March 2020 | Published: 14 December 2020

About the author(s)

Margaret D.M. Cullen, Nelson Mandela University Business School, Faculty of Commerce, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Andre P. Calitz, Computing Sciences, Faculty of Science, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Mary-Ann Chetty, Nelson Mandela University Business School, Faculty of Commerce, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Research universities in South Africa are well-recognised sources of new knowledge and their contributions to innovation are manifested through the creation, transfer and commercialisation of new technologies originating from academic research. Research collaboration between universities, industry and the community offer various benefits, which include funding for students and researchers and third-stream income for universities. Additionally, industry can gain access to new technologies to incorporate in improved products and services.

Aim: The aim of this study was to identify the factors that encourage academic researchers’ involvement in technology commercialisation.

Setting: The growth in university technology transfer in South Africa can be attributed to the South African Intellectual Property Rights from the Publicly Financed Research and Development Act (Act 51 of 2008). The establishment of Technology Transfer Offices at universities across South Africa, aims to involve researchers in commercialisation activities, champion the innovation conversation within universities and to progress innovations from concept to application in society.

Methods: The study followed a positivistic research philosophy and a deductive approach. Researchers (n=38) in two faculties at the Nelson Mandela University participated in this exploratory study and completed an online survey. The respondents were selected through purposeful sampling.  

Results: The findings indicate that a combination of incentives is necessary to enable and to encourage researcher involvement in the commercialisation of research. A set of recommendations based on the findings and implementation suggestions are proposed.

Conclusion: A combination of monetary and non-monetary incentives are required to enable academics’ involvement in commercialisation activities.

Keywords

technology transfer; commercialisation; university; researcher involvement; incentives.

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