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National Contact Point for Knowledge Transfer and Intellectual Property

Types of knowledge transfer

Technology transfer

The term technology transfer is older and has a narrower meaning than knowledge transfer. It tends to focus on transfer from universities and research institutions to business and industry. In this case, technologies (technological know-how) are translated into products and services (see:  Innovations-Management, Tintelnot, Meißner, Steinmeier, Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-642-58427-5, 1999, German, 363 pp)

The main objective is to support universities and research institutions in their role as knowledge providers by protecting, licensing and commercialising their knowledge.

The transformation of universities from pure knowledge providers to co-designers of the knowledge creation and innovation process (from a linear to a systemic model) calls for support that is broader than a mere focus on technology. This broader understanding of the role of universities has led to the development of Knowledge Transfer Offices (KTOs). These offices aim to help shape knowledge.

(see: Knowledge Transfer from Public Research Organisations, Europäisches Parlament, 2012, English, 118 pp,  Boosting Open Innovation and Knowledge Transfer in the European Union Europäische Kommission, 2014, English, 76 pp).

With regard to technology transfer, Koschatzky and Walter distinguish between contractual-institutional transfer activities and so-called ‘soft’ activities; although in practice the boundaries are not clear-cut. The soft activities include:

  • Information transfer
  • Personnel transfer
  • Technical and scientific training.

(See: Technology Transfer, Innovation Networking and Regional Development, Koschatzky, 1996, ISI-A-10-96, English; Technologietransfer zwischen Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft, Walter, 1992, 1997, Springer-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 3322820017, 9783322820013, German, 300 pp; Innovationsmanagement)

Information transfer

Information transfer refers to the preparation of publications and patents and the mediation of contacts, specialists and experts (see: Innovations-Management, Tintelnot, Meißner, Steinmeier, Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-642-58427-5, 1999, German, 363 pp).

In addition,

  • Access via databases;
  • The presentation of research results at trade fairs and other events;
  • Training courses on the latest findings;
  • Consulting services;
  • Contract research;
  • Research transfer and
  • Informal contacts

also promote information exchange (see: Good Practise Report, Le Bris, Pousttchi, Suszka, 2010, Deutsch). With regard to the transfer of information through databases, we draw your attention to the European Science Cloud Initiative.

Personnel transfer

“Personnel transfer refers to the temporary or longer-term collaboration of [researchers and technical staff in companies or employees of industrial research and development departments] in research institutions.“ (see: Innovations-Management, Tintelnot, Meißner, Steinmeier, Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3-642-58427-5, 1999, German, 363 pp.)

This in particular includes

  • Personnel exchange,
  • Offering internships,
  • Employing students before graduation or recent graduates,
  • The exchange of researchers in specific R&D projects,
  • Giving teaching assignments to company employees,
  • Cooperation in R&D projects and
  • Participation in transfer-related networks..

(see: Good Practise Report, Le Bris, Pousttchi, Suszka, 2010, German)

When a spin-off is set up, i.e. when a new company is created from an existing organisation, there is a concurrence of personnel transfer and technology transfer. Valuable synergies can often be utilised by exchanging information with the university. [Cf. Ausgründungen aus wissenschaftlichen Einrichtungen als Form des direkten Technologietransfers/Technologietransfer – Anforderungen und Entwicklungstendenzen, Heukeroth, Pleschak, Fraunhofer IRB Verlag, ISBN: 3-8167-6275-1, 2003, German, pp 75 – 80]

The European funding programmes support personnel transfer mainly through the Marie Skłodowska Curie actions in the Horizon 2020 (H2020) Excellent Science pillar..

Providing access to material goods and infrastructure

Providing access to material goods and infrastructure means that cooperation partners are given the opportunity to use the organisation’s equipment and instruments, laboratories, tools, facilities and infrastructure.

This type of transfer is particularly important for SMEs if they do not want to purchase their own instruments or equipment for cost reasons, if they do not own a certain piece of special equipment or if they initially only want to test a device for an experimental setup. The transfer of material resources can thus be an additional service provided by scientific institutions to support companies by making material goods available to them.

Joint research institutes

In these institutions, researchers from universities and industry work together on complementary research topics. Alternatively, companies can restrict themselves to the role of a funding provider. Geographical proximity as the basis for greater interaction is one of the key factors in this form of cooperation (see: Good Practise Report, Le Bris, Pousttchi, Suszka, 2010, German)

The Horizon 2020 Research Infrastructures programme promotes the networking of existing research infrastructures of all scientific disciplines with other similar institutions in Europe. The aim here is to jointly offer services for top European researchers. The planning of new pan-European infrastructures along a strategic roadmap is also being promoted (cf Forschungsinfrastrukturen, Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft (FFG), German)

This text is an excerpt from the NCP-IP brochure “Europäisches Wissen transferieren” (Transferring European Knowledge).

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