The R&D performers include not only the 21 universities, 31 polytechnics, a number of vocational education institutions and special state research institutes, such as the State Technical Research Centre VTT, but also the corporate R&D. It is considered very important that the national innovation system brings together the public and the private sector innovation actors.
A crucial element in the innovation system is constituted by the innovation intermediaries for the transfer of knowledge and technology from R&D to practice. In the Finnish system these intermediaries include science and technology parks, technology transfer companies, innovation centres and business incubators. The Finnish Science Park Association (TEKEL) has got member centres, each with its own technology profile, and most of them located close to universities. The regional aspect in technology transfer is especially taken into consideration in the Centres of Expertise Programmes. In the framework of these programmes tens of regional centres of expertise have been built in different fields of technology, including not only traditional high-tech but also new media, cultural business, recreational experience industry, industrial and textile design, and environmental technology. The idea of these centres is to bring together industry, local government, technology centres, universities, research institutes and public administration in order to identify regional strengths and to create economic growth on the basis of these. One main purpose or the Centres of Expertise is to bring the experts of the universities into closer interaction and cooperation with the experts of the industry.
2 Universities and Innovation Universities have always been a key factor in the development of the societies. They educate the experts for the society and they do the basic research to create the profound knowledge for the use of the society. Nevertheless, the connection between the universities and the enterprises used to be more indirect.
The recent development has, however, shaped the connection towards more direct, some may even say, too direct interaction. The universities are increasingly seen as a source of knowledge and innovation to be utilised by the industry in the most effective way. It is true, of course, that the knowledge created in the universities and the professionals trained by them constitute a vital resource for business and industry. The question is how direct this link should be and how much the needs and the interests of the industry should influence the education given and the research done at the universities. The independence of the universities and the academic freedom should be seen as crucial resources as such. On the other hand, universities should take their responsibility towards financiers, i.e. the society, and to educate the kind of professionals and to do the kind of research needed by the society and to have an even stronger influence in the development of the society. Accordingly, the third so-called societal mission has been included in the tasks of the universities in several countries.
Recent technological and innovation policies have been built on larger and closer cooperation between science and industry. Business is increasingly aware of the possibilities inherent in cooperation. However, the cooperation is not beneficial automatically. Mutual benefit and trust are needed. It is necessary that the principles and practices of cooperation are clear and provide incentive for both parties, i.e. both the university and the industry. This sets new demands on university management which must be ready to provide the frames for cooperation both in facilitating it and in controlling it. It is necessary that universities make the cooperation possible and take care of the interests of both the university and the individual researchers in relation to the private sector partners.
The cooperation and the more effective utilisation of the research results entail stronger control on the rights in results and on the publication of them. It is not possible to have a patent on something that is already published. At the same time, the academic freedom includes also the freedom or even the duty to publish the results and to make them available for the whole society. An appropriate balance should be found between these interests.
It is a European-wide phenomenon that universities are becoming more and more dependent on external funding. They are required both to compete on the public funding and to have an increasing of private funding. To do this, universities must learn to combine their deep specialised knowledge with versatile expertise for the benefit of users in joint projects with the private sector.
They must also be able to organise their economies and administration in a way that enables the deeper cooperation with the private sector. On the other hand, the independence of the universities is a value as such and it should be maintained by securing certain core funding to them. Not all research can be dependent on external funding. It is quite evident that basic research cannot be financed by private funding. Very few enterprises are ready to invest or even capable of investing in research the results of which are so unsure and not directly ready for utilisation.
In order to be able to compete on external funding, a university must have a competitive innovative environment characterised by the researchers’ strong commitment to research, the determined quality enhancement and competence building as well as genuine desire for results. The organisation of the university should be flexible enough to enable the effective use and allocation of resources and their linkages with the industry and the other society around them should be well-established and working. It is crucial that the university knows the surrounding region (society) and that the region knows the strengths and the expertise of the university. In order to maintain its competitiveness and to be an attractive partner for the private sector, the university must be also capable of employing the most competent researchers and the most promising young students or researchers to-be.
3 Innovation and IPRs The law is one of the main tools to control and guide human behaviour.
This also applies to innovative activities. It is important for the national competitiveness that the legal regulations enhance the creation and especially the finding and the utilisation of useful innovations. The most important disciplines of legislation in this respect are intellectual property law and competition law but there are, of course, many other disciplines affecting these activities, such as environmental law and labour law. In Finland it has been considered extremely important from the viewpoint of national innovation system that national law is kept up-to-date and is constantly developed in order to facilitate the innovativeness and, at least, not to hinder it. On the other hand, it certainly is important that the changes in legislation are not sudden or unpredictable. They must be prepared openly and taking into consideration different interests.
Intellectual property rights are a highly heterogeneous group of rights whose common point is to guarantee compensation for creative, inventive or economic efforts made. The rationale behind these rights has been extensively discussed and it is not possible to go in deep here. However, at least three main reasons can be found. Firstly, the most traditional reason for the protection of intellectual property is the natural right in the results of one’s own work. It has been said that right in intangible results, such as works of art or inventions, is even more natural than right in tangible results. This reason is still in the background of IPR legislation in many countries, for example, in most continental European countries. Secondly, the protection can be grounded on the idea of securing just reward to the creators for the creative work done. In principle, this could be also secured by other means, such as state subsidies. However, a more practical solution is to give creators a protected exclusive right and to let them alone to use this right in order to negotiate a reward. The third and the most modern reason for IPRs is a more societal one. The exclusive right given to creators by the society for a restricted period of time can be seen as an incentive for the creation of innovations and other intellectual property. It is typical for many IP that it is time-consuming and expensive to create but cheap and easy to replicate. The digital technology has made this contradiction even more explicit.
The exclusive right provided by the IPR legislation makes it possible for the creator to publish the results of his/her work and to gain money on the use of them without the risk that they are instantly copied and used without his/her permission. How well IPR legislation fulfils this task depends, of course, to a large extent on the application of the legislation and on the authorities applying it. We all know that there are internationally huge differences in this respect.
When it comes to relation between IPRs and innovation activities, patents are usually the regime discussed. Patents protecting technical inventions are, of course, an extremely important tool for guaranteeing exclusive rights in innovations in order to make it possible and rewarding to invest in the further development and utilisation of them. Quite often, the intensity of patenting is taken as one key figure when establishing the competitiveness and innovativeness of a country. It should be mentioned that Finland is in the 4th place when it comes to the number of patent applications per capita right after Japan, USA and Germany. Nevertheless, patents are only one regime of the large family of intellectual property rights. With the development of the information society and knowledge-based industry, copyright or author’s rights and rights related to it have gained more and more economic importance even in traditional industrial sectors. With branding and design-oriented production, the significance of protected marks (incl. trademarks, trade names, domain names, geographical indications, designations of origin) and protected designs has increased, as well.
Some recent developments, such as the discussion on software patents and on the strengthening of copyright protection in digital network environment, have raised the issue of the extent of IPR protection. On one hand, it has been claimed that the innovative work needs stronger protection but on the other hand, it has been also asked if the protection is already too strong giving the rightholders an unjustly strong position. This discussion makes it clear how important it is to discuss openly on the effects of legislation and on the needs to update it.
We cannot afford unbalanced IPR legislation that is preventing innovations rather than enhancing them and is giving too high award for the first-comers and is unreasonably preventing others from entering the market.
Here it science also good to notice how the Russian Minister for Education and is, Mr. Andrei Foursenko, when introducing tax advantages for certain holders of intellectual property rights in November 2005, indicated that these amendments should stimulate the development of technological innovations in Russia. Mr. Foursenko promised to quadruple the number of innovative companies on IP market. Concerning the protection of the interests of the Russian researchers, the minister stressed that in Russia the situation is not ideal in the field of IPR protection. He noticed that the federation has got a completely competitive legislation on this point, but it is the application of the law which is the problem, in particular as regards the fight against counterfeiting. In short sight, piracy remains very widespread, but it is losing ground all the same.
4 IPRs and Universities Universities have got many roles in the society. It is a home for pure research, scholarship, learning and culture but it is also a training school for the professions and a bridge between theory and practice. On the basis of these different roles, we can also find different models for universities. The teaching institution model considers universities as educational institutions ordering and imparting knowledge to students. The teaching and research institution model adds research to the picture. In this model teaching and research are inseparably linked and universities are seen as centres of free inquiry and learning based on academic independence and freedom to publish. This is perhaps the model that we are mainly familiar with. The model that is receiving increasing attention today can be characterised as the entrepreneurial or partnership model. In this model universities are forming partnership with the outside world, especially with commerce and industry. The importance of outside funding is increasing and the universities are expected to fully engage with the community in which they are located (regional impact). This model also involves the commercial utilisation of the knowledge and information or intellectual property produced at universities and the transfer of this knowledge and technology to the use by the private sector.
It has been clearly demonstrated how universities worldwide are moving or are expected to move towards more entrepreneurial model or, at least, to a model where they acquire an increasing share of their funding from external sources and where they are actively involved in the commercial utilisation of the knowledge and innovations created by their staff and students. This also involves the management of intellectual property rights. In the traditional university model, the university was not interested in having rights in the products of their staff or students. It was enough that the research was done and the results were published for the benefit and use of society. This is different in the entrepreneurial model. If the research is done in partnership with the private sector and with the intention of commercialising the research results, the partners have reasons to claim exclusive rights in the results or, at least, control the publication of them. In this respect, it is the duty of the university to have the necessary arrangements and agreements with the researchers in order to guarantee the necessary transfer of rights. The university itself may also have some claims on the results in order to guarantee the desired economic result.
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