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Spin-Outs: Creating Businesses from University Intellectual Property by Graham Richards

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Technology transfer is a current buzz phrase. It relates to the creation of wealth from the intellectual capital generated in universities. In some respects it is a new label for things which have gone on for a very long time, even at a university as venerable and academic as Oxford.

At the time of the founding of Oxford Instruments, which became the world’s leading supplier of super-conducting magnets, the attitude of Oxford was dominated not by potential wealth creation, but by fear of liability. This near paranoia was not totally without foundation. In the 1920s, a university professor named Owen developed and patented a machine to extract sugar from beet, which was licenced to an Italian food company. Unfortunately the device was fraudulent ...

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