Some organizations have a mandate of contributing maximally to Global Public Goods (GPG's), e.g. a research organization that contributes knowledge to society about climate change, water flows, biodiversity conservation, etc.


Many knowledge institutions have recognized their need to generate additional income streams for their operations, besides the traditional donor-based funding and R&D collaborations. A typical example is the operation of technology transfer offices within or in close association with major universities. Technology transfer specialists identify interesting innovations, assess their market value, commerciability and protectibility, and following positive assessment will enter commercialization pathways via licensing, start-up company formation etc.


Back to the first type of organization: Even if they would be interested in generating additional income streams from knowledge and innovation, it is hard for them to combine the requirements for successful commercialization, and public knowledge/GPG mandate.


An impossibility?


I like to think not, even though it seems a very bumpy ride.


Could there be knowledge exploitation pathways that on one hand respect GPG character of knowledge products, and the protection for that same knowledge one needs for successful exploitation (why pay for knowledge that is freely available??).

One possibility I would like to offer for discussion is the unique character of a (scientific) database:

1) The database allows data extraction to one customer, while the database remains a black box to others, and 2) the database keeps on evolving as long as research keeps on putting in. It would be conceivable that one allows freely available access (extraction) to public (not for profit) sector, especially research, while the black box character still allows for useful paid extraction by commercially interested parties. The different pathways could simply be managed by smart licensing conditions.


May I invite the Business Model Hub Audience to input into this subject. Add to this idea, or kick it over, or to come with completely different ideas of approaching the apparant paradox I sketched.


Thanks very much, best regards,



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Hi Jasper,

just saw your post. I have been also thinking about this stuff for quite a long time as I have observed similar patterns in my daily work. I also have been thinking about a recommendation&trust-based peer-to-peer database sort of thing to catalyze tech-transfer.

Having worked in the tech transfer industry (in Germany), my experience was that the first & foremost issue in  the process of transferring knowledge from the lab to anything that might be a "real-world-application" is the incentive issue. All the stakeholders in this business (at least in Germany, but probably in most European countries and possibly even overseas) have different and imo contraproductive incentives. If you ask me, we would have to find a way to set this straight first, before we start with the operative framework.

If you like to discuss this further, don't hesitate to reply :-) 

Hi Leon, thanks for your message. Yes the incentive issue is critical. Fortunately though, diverging interests in our workfield often originate from misunderstanding between those stakeholders (e.g. between business developers and scientists), so all it takes to significantly improve the situation is getting everyone on the rails and to listen to each other. But indeed, opposing incentives are problematic, you are right. For instance, the organization I'm working for, it's core-most drive is securing research funds from donor organizations and creating scientific outcomes. The little realization that knowledge exploitation could actually positively contribute to the organization's goals, is forgotten in the fever of producing the scientific outcomes/public goods that are promised to donors.
But sometimes one needs to show people a good example, for them to catch the drift. So I was hoping for some more response and some smart ideas via this discussion of how to tackle the dilemma.
Currently I'm working on an idea of starting a business incubation network as another means to create both scientific outcomes AND create value.


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