Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2011 (Revised June 2012)

Office of Technology Transfer - Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences

by Willy Shih, Sen Chai, Kamen Bliznashki and Courtney Hyland


Gordon Zong is trying to teach Chinese universities and research institutes how to do effective technology transfer and IP licensing, but he is trying to do it in an environment with weak property rights and an underdeveloped support infrastructure. As the managing director of the Office of Technology Transfer at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, he works with researchers at the forefront of biology and biotech, yet he faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles to getting the technology commercialized within domestic Chinese companies, so he has turned to global multinational pharma companies, for now. The purpose of the case is to help present and future managers at global multinationals who have responsibility for R&D strategy to understand some of the complexities of the Chinese intellectual property environment so that they can build effective participation strategies for their organizations. Understanding the misaligned incentives that result in the production of junk patents and the challenges of patent enforcement, as well as the direction of change are vital, because as the Chinese system evolves quickly, the implications of those changes will have important commercial consequences.

Keywords: Multinational Firms and Management; Patents; Knowledge Management; Law Enforcement; Business and Government Relations; Research and Development; Biotechnology Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; China;


Shih, Willy, Sen Chai, Kamen Bliznashki, and Courtney Hyland. "Office of Technology Transfer - Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences." Harvard Business School Case 611-057, March 2011. (Revised June 2012.)