Using Technology Transfers to Promote Innovation

A technology transfer refers to the exchange of data, designs, inventions, materials, software, technical knowledge, or trade secrets between organisations or for different purposes. This process adheres to the policies, procedures, and values of the organisations involved within the exchange.

What is a Technology Transfer?

A technology transfer, also known as “Transfer of Technology” (ToT), is the exchange of data, knowledge, and various kinds of intellectual property, such as a patent or a process. Technology transfers typically occur among universities, businesses, and governments, whether formal or informal.

It is a form of IP transfer that facilitates the sharing of skills, knowledge, technologies, manufacturing methods, and more. This transfer broadens access to scientific and technological advancements, allowing a diverse range of users to contribute to development or exploitation. Horizontal transfer spans various areas, while vertical transfer moves technologies, such as from research centres to research and development teams.

What Can a Technology Transfer Be Used For?

The use of a technology transfer can vary, depending on the project and the intellectual property that is a part of it. This can encompass a range of tasks, such as:

  • Obtaining patent and intellectual property rights
  • Evaluating commercial potential of innovations
  • Marketing technologies to potential partners
  • Aligning research with commercialisation strategies
  • Assisting startup creation and development
  • Securing research and startup funding
  • Negotiating licence agreements and partnerships
  • Developing business plans
  • Establishing innovation ecosystems
  • Promoting economic development through innovation
  • Encouraging entrepreneurship to bring products to market

Other activities may be involved, tailored to the specific innovation, product, services, and objectives.

The Stages of a Technology Transfer

Technology transfers involve six key steps, which are impacted by technological, organisational, and environmental factors.

  • Invention disclosure
  • Evaluation
  • Patent application
  • Assessment and marketing
  • Patent licensing
  • Commercialisation

These steps guide innovations from disclosure to market readiness, involving market evaluation, intellectual property protection, licensing, and promotional efforts for successful commercialisation.

The Benefits of Technology Transfers

Integral to the technological innovation process, technology transfers facilitate the promotion and sharing of scientific and technological research, skills, and procedures to society and the marketplace. It enables the progression of research, from novel discoveries through disclosure, evaluation, and breakthrough protection.

The subsequent stages of technology transfers involve marketing, licensing, and further product development, transforming research into impactful products, processes, or services for society. Successful products generate financial returns that can be reinvested in additional research, perpetuating the innovation cycle.

Promoting Innovation

Companies gain significant advantages through technology transfer initiatives. They receive valuable intellectual property to invest in the development of early-stage technologies, while also benefiting from essential technical assistance. Collaborating with top university researchers offers companies unique opportunities, and access to more fundamental research fields ensures a broad knowledge base.

This, in turn, helps to enable the commercialisation of innovative products, which can help to foster growth and increase profitability. Beyond individual company gains, technology transfer contributes to the broader community by strengthening the local economy.

Increasingly, communities surrounding research institutions transform into high-tech innovation clusters, drawing in a highly educated workforce and cultivating a robust innovation sector. This results in more technological innovations which can be used to help address societal and environmental issues.

Environmental & Societal Impacts

An additional positive impact of technology transfers are the societal benefits they can help facilitate, spanning from saving lives and enhancing health to fostering a cleaner environment and introducing technical advancements. This can be achieved by having various IPs legally protected, and then distributed in a way, such as IP licensing, that allows other companies to create new products and services from it.

A large part of the societal benefits that technology transfer provides, come in the form of sharing academic or scientific research. This shared research can be used to create new solutions that address healthcare issues, environmental issues, or other critical areas.

These outcomes contribute to the delivery of new capabilities, products, and services that collectively enrich and improve the overall well-being of society.

Technology Transfers and IP Policy

Guidelines governing the management of intellectual property that stems from research encompass various aspects, including ownership, the designated entity responsible for protection, and the roles of any staff or team members involved. Additionally, these rules address interactions with third parties, conflict of interest management, incentives for researchers engaging in technology transfer, and the equitable distribution of benefits.

Similarly, rules governing the sharing of knowledge and IP transfer should include policies on the publication and sharing of knowledge and IP. Also included in the IP policy should be the responsibilities related to commercialisation, guidelines for collaborative and contract research, and safeguards for national or public interests, if necessary.

No matter if it is at the national level for trading between nations, or at the commercial level for small businesses licensing out their IPs, having a robust and clearly defined IP policy in place is essential to negotiating fair terms of a technology transfer.

Technology Transfers & IP Ownership

A common issue that can arise around the subject of technology transfers, is the rules and policies in place for IP Ownership. When a new IP is discovered or invented, who can claim legal ownership of it isn’t as clear-cut as you might first think.

Determining the ownership rights of various intellectual properties can be complex, varying across countries, institutions, and even within an institution. Factors influencing ownership include:

  • The type of creator or inventor (employee, student, visiting researcher, external collaborator)
  • The nature of the work (invention, copyright work, confidential technical data, design)
  • The use of resources or funds from the institution and/or sponsors by the creator
  • The circumstances of creation (individual or collaborative effort).

To establish the ownership of an intellectual property, you must consider the applicable national intellectual property law, the IP policies of the overarching organisation, such as a university or place of employment, and any individual contractual agreements among the creators and sponsors. Only those who have the legal ownership of the IP have the authority of whether they engage in technology transfers with their IP.

Typically, if intellectual property is created within an organisation, such as a place of employment, or an academic research facility, the legal IP rights usually go to the organisation, rather than the individual. It is always worth checking any IP policy-related information in an organisation’s contracts or handbooks.

Keep Updated on the Intellectual Property Landscape

When it comes to the intellectual property landscape, keeping up to date with public patents and other forms of intellectual property within your industry can be difficult. Without knowing the level of competition you have, it is hard to initiate conversations for technology transfers which would benefit you, such as IP licensing.

Minesoft has a suite of powerful tools, such as Minesoft Origin, that makes searching for and tracking IP data much more effective and efficient. Get in touch with our team today to request a demo, and find out for yourself how Minesoft can empower your IP strategies.

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