May 15, 2007 Commercialization of Academic Research To Be Topic of Lecture and Panel Discussion, May 24

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

There is much debate about the growth of commercialization of academic research results. Does it threaten a university’s principal mission?

The topic will be discussed in a lecture and panel discussion titled “Commercializing University Research—Threats and Opportunities—The Oxford University Model” at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. The program is sponsored by the Library’s John W. Kluge Center, the Library’s Science, Technology & Business Division and the American Philosophical Society with support from the University of Oxford (UK). The program was organized by Raymond Dwek, professor and head of the Glycobiology Department at Oxford. Dwek is the holder of the Chair of Technology and Society at the Kluge Center.

Tim Cook and Tom Hockaday, both of Isis Innovation Ltd., the technology transfer company of the University of Oxford, believe that Oxford has successfully addressed academic research commercialization issues. They hope to provide guidance and clear principles showing how commercialization need not threaten a university’s principal academic mission.

According to Dwek, who in 1988 founded the first university spin-off company in which Oxford had a shareholding, the history of Oxford’s commercialization starts with the “revolutionary technology” of printing—the university published its first book in 1478. During the American Revolution, sales of Bibles to America declined. With a depressed Bible market, Oxford University’s Delegates of the Press created 42 shares in their Bible privilege for commercial printers in London. About 100 years later, in the 1880s, the shares were once again brought under the university’s control. But it was only about 20 years ago that the Oxford began to start commercializing the results of its scientific research.

Cook and Hockaday will use the Oxford University model to illustrate how the volume of academic consultancy, licensing and successful spin-off companies has markedly increased as a result of policy development and a focused allocation of resources. A panel will discuss this topic and will entertain questions from the audience.

Among those scheduled to participate in addition to Cook, Hockaday and Dwek are Baruch S. Blumberg, Nobel laureate, president of the American Philosophical Society and a member of the Kluge Center Advisory Council; and Mark S. Frankel, director, Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library’s resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information, visit

The Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division provides reference and bibliographic services and develops the Library's rich and vast collections in all areas of science (with the exception of clinical medicine and technical agriculture), technology, business, management, and economics. Visit

The American Philosophical Society (ASP) promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications, library resources and community outreach. As the country's first learned society, APS has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life for over 250 years. Visit


PR 07-112
ISSN 0731-3527