STIINPL › Public sector research - key actors - technology transfer offices
What are technology transfer offices (TTOs)?
Technology transfer or technology licensing offices are those organizations or parts of an organization which help the staff at research universities and public research institutes (PRIs) to identify and manage the organization’s intellectual assets, including protecting intellectual property and transferring or licensing rights to other parties to enhance prospects for further development. A university or PRI may have a single centralized TTO, it may have several TTOs associated with it (e.g. for different schools or departments), or it may outsource to an external TTO which has several client organizations.
What are the main activities of TTOs and how do they foster innovation?
TTOs tasks usually include but are not limited to
Several empirical studies (e.g. Siegel et al., 2007) appear to indicate that the key determinant of increasing enforcement of intellectual property ownership by universities has been the creation of a formal technology transfer/licensing office. In this way, TTOs can serve universities receive rewards for their innovations and, in this way, foster future innovation projects. Moreover, TTOs role of facilitating technology transfer supports the commercial exploitation of knowledge and the market introduction of innovations. A specific way TTOs might do so is via facilitating the creation of spin-offs.
What activities and outcomes of public sector research can technology transfer offices support?
TTOs play a role for many activities of public sector research including notably the following:
What resources and capabilities do technology transfer offices need to perform their activities?
TTOs need to have good knowledge both of public research institutions and of the technology market to contribute meaningfully. This requires specifically the need for highly skilled staff bringing in business, legal and scientific expertise. Limited resources for TTOs can, therefore, seriously reduce any of the potential innovation-supporting impacts.
The effective use of knowledge markets (KM) by TTOs requires both a good knowledge of the inventions (hence a close contact with researchers) and the ability to operate in the open and competitive context of KM. Whereas the first quality requires local roots, the second requires a world-wide horizon. It also requires highly competent teams, hence numerous enough (critical mass) and compensated at (usually high) market rates. These various requirements are not straightforward to meet together and various solutions have been experimented across countries and over time.
What are the shaping factors affecting how technology transfer offices can support public sector research organisations and their innovation performance?
The capacities as well as the usefulness of TTOs in stimulating innovation will depend on a lot of shaping factors.
What are the important policies to improve the role of technology transfer offices?
OECD (2003), Turning Scienc einto Business: Patenting and Licensing at Public Research Organisations.
Grimaldi et al. (2011), 30 Years After Bayh-Dole: Reassessing Academic Entrepreneurship, Research Policy, forthcoming.
Siegel et al (2007)
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