Policies and patenting to stimulate the biotechnology sector: Evidence from the Netherlands

Peter Van Dongen*, Hester Tak, Eric Claassen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Evidence-based results of innovation policies stimulating the use of academic patents and thereby contributing to the development of economic sectors are scarce. This article describes the effects of a policy instrument (BioPartner programme) to commercialise scientific research during the emerging stage of the biotechnology sector in the Netherlands. From the year 2000, this instrument provided funding for the reimbursement of academic biotechnology patent applications and assistance with the creation of spin-offs. We studied general trends in biotechnology patent applications in the time period between 1990 and 2009 and quantified the appropriation of academic biotechnology patents by the industry. Biotechnology patent classification codes and the PATSTAT database of the European Patent Organisation were used to define and identify all Dutch biotechnology patent applications. Matching the data from these applications with the names of some 65,000 potential Dutch academic inventors and 3,400 Dutch academic patents, we found a net contribution of the policy instrument of approximately 20 per cent of all Dutch biotechnology patent applications. However, the policy instrument did not result in an increase in the overall number of biotechnology patent applications or their use in the sector. Our data suggest that BioPartner contributed to improve the 0business culture using biotechnology patents0 at universities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-147
Number of pages12
JournalScience and Public Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • biotechnology
  • innovation policy
  • patent application trends
  • spin-offs


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