Technology transfer

Technology transfer

Technology transfer is the process of sharing of skills, knowledge, technologies, methods of manufacturing, samples of manufacturing and facilities among industries, universities, governments and other institutions to ensure that scientific and technological developments are accessible to a wider range of users who can then further develop and exploit the technology into new products, processes, applications, materials or services. While conceptually the practice has been utilized for many years (in ancient times, Archimedes was notable for applying science to practical problems), the present-day volume of research, combined with high-profile failures at Xerox PARC and elsewhere, has led to a focus on the process itself.

Transfer process

Many companies, universities and governmental organizations now have an "Office of Technology Transfer" (also known as "Tech Transfer" or "TechXfer") dedicated to identifying research which has potential commercial interest and strategies for how to exploit it. For instance, a research result may be of scientific and commercial interest, but patents are normally only issued for practical processes, and so someone -- not necessarily the researchers -- must come up with a specific practical process. Another consideration is commercial value; for example, while there are many ways to accomplish nuclear fusion, the ones of commercial value are those that generate more energy than they require to operate.

The process to commercially exploit research varies widely. It can involve licensing agreements or setting up joint ventures and partnerships to share both the risks and rewards of bringing new technologies to market. Other corporate vehicles, e.g. spin-outs, are used where the host organization does not have the necessary will, resources or skills to develop a new technology. Often these approaches are associated with raising of venture capital (VC) as a means of funding the development process, a practice more common in the US than in the EU, which has a more conservative approach to VC funding. [ [ EU Report on EU/global comparisons in the commercialisation of new technologies] ]

In recent years, there has been a marked increase in technology transfer intermediaries specialized in their field. They work on behalf of research institutions, governments and even large multinationals. Where start-ups and spin-outs are the clients, commercial fees are sometimes waived in lieu of an equity stake in the business. As a result of the potential complexity of the technology transfer process, technology transfer organizations are often multidisciplinary, including economists, engineers, lawyers, marketers and scientists. The dynamics of the technology transfer process has attracted attention in its own right, and there are several dedicated societies and journals.

See also

* Angel investor
* Bayh-Dole Act
* Blue Ocean Strategy
* Business Incubator
* Commercialization
* Copycat
* Diffusion of innovations
* Discovery (observation)
* Innovation
* Intellectual property
* Invention
* Open Innovation
* Patent
* Prior art
* Seed money
* Startup company
* Technology assessment
* Technology readiness level
* Value chain


* "Comparative Technology Transfer and Society"
* "Technology Transfer Tactics"


External links

* [ The Association of University Technology Managers]
* [ Enterprise Europe Network - European Technology Transfer Hub]
* [ USA TODAY May 2008 interview with Texas Instruments CEO on technology transfer]

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