Technology transfer around the world

The role of universities in the innovation process 

The primary and most important purpose of the university is knowledge transfer for the sake of public interest. In addition to the traditional functions of the university such as education and research, a new task appears in the operation of universities besides spreading the open innovation point of view. This new task is the commercialization of knowledge created in the institution for the benefit of society. In the open innovation model enterprises supplement their research and development capacity through cooperation with external resources. By appearing as external resources throughout the process, universities are becoming more market-oriented. Companies create competition amongst universities by their demand for quickly produced and industrially applicable research results. At the same time building up industrial cooperation and knowledge transfer mechanisms must not interfere with the traditional and central mission of the university and related principles. 

Creation, protection and sharing knowledge are traditionally the most important social functions of the University. All activities aiming at sharing knowledge are considered as knowledge transfer. These activities include professional publications, conference-presentations, research related collaborations with external partners and formal technology transfer activities, i.e. commercialization via licensee and spin-off foundation. In a narrower sense technology transfer means putting the technology to the market, the process includes transferring and receiving all knowledge and things by which the recipient of the technology is becoming able to produce new products and technologies. Effective intellectual property management at the university is a crucial condition of performing technology transfer activities. 

The development of technology transfer

Institutionalized knowledge and technology transfer at universities was first developed in Israel in the 1950s. Knowledge transfer activities of universities are exclusively performed by technology transfer companies that are 100% owned by the institutions. In the USA university technology transfer offices were estabilished after the Bayh-Dole Act had been passed in 1980. These offices are typically internal and independent units of the university organization. Both models are present in Europe, although the USA method is more popular among institutions. In both cases, a unit with independent leadership and clean profile that is specialized to perform these tasks exclusively, performs technology and knowledge transfer activities.

Professional organizations, networks

Updated: 2019.08.21.

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