The average academic earns just £156 a year from intellectual property rights, Professor Michael Sterling told a Royal Academy of Engineers seminar last week.
Increased academic workload due to rising academic numbers, slipping of esteem of academia, the difficulty of recruiting high quality staff, and poor morale have combined to lower the chances of academics making money from innovation, Sterling said.
But Sterling, vice-chancellor of Brunel University and an electronics engineer who is also chairman of two companies spun off from his research activities, believed this could be improved.
He said that the keys to successful exploitation of research were involvement and commitment from the academic who did the original work.
There were grounds for optimism, he said, including the Department of Trade and Industry’s focus on industry/academic links; universities giving increased weight to academic links when considering staff for promotion; and the need for universities to find external sources of funding.
‘If industry has money, then universities want it,’ he said.