How Principal Investigators’ Commercial Experience Influences Technology Transfer and Market Impacts


Overview: Businesses can benefit from university–industry collaborations, yet they rarely take full advantage of them. Scientists who serve as principal investigators (PIs) act as the nucleus of university–industry collaborations and partner with industry to cocreate value. We conducted a case study of PIs at publicly funded research universities, institutes, and organizations in Ireland to explore how having commercial experience influences how PIs approach technology transfer and how they develop new business models, products, and services. We learned that PIs’ prior commercial experience influences how they approach their research, project work, and project selection and affects how they commercialize knowledge and outputs from their scientific research––that is, patents, licences, agreements, etc.––throughout the project’s life cycle. In university–industry collaborations, PIs’ commercial experience can impact industry partners’ attempts to realize technology transfer and market impacts.