There’s a trend that seems to be on the rise around the world, and it’s worth thinking about where you live. It has to do with the centralizing or consolidating of technology transfer functions across universities.
We’ve explored the topic of TTO centralization on this blog before, and we have a free white paper with best practices on centralizing/consolidating TTOs. But the impressive thing about what’s happening lately is the extent to which the coordination is happening across institutions.
Launched just over a year ago, the Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of universities and research institutes in New Zealand that does not itself commercialize R&D but instead acts “as a focal point for collaboration and co-ordination between those who do…. By collaborating on projects, combining capability and sharing networks, we at KiwiNet believe that we can better leverage the limited resources available for commercialisation, and help one another achieve better commercial outcomes for New Zealand.” KiwiNet’s activities resemble those of trade associations such as AUTM®, including an innovation database similar to AUTM’s Global Technology Portal. But KiwiNet also provides funding to bridge the valley of death for early-stage technology through the PreSeed Accelerator Fund. This funding has helped to foster university-industry partnerships. For a single example, see the “WaikatoLink, Prima Group and Ballance Develop New Filter Technology” entry on KiwiNet’s news page.
Other countries seem to be following New Zealand’s example. As featured on the Technology Transfer Tactics blog in June, Ireland’s government announced at NovaUCD that a new Central Technology Transfer Office will be set up to consolidate research/intellectual property opportunities across the entire publicly funded research system. There was also talk of establishing standardized IP terms to “facilitate easy-to-set-up agreements between businesses and researchers.” It will be interesting to see what shape these standardized terms take. Perhaps they’ll pick up on the Easy Access IP model established by three universities in the UK.
Most recently, a similar announcement has emerged in Israel, where the country’s Council for Higher Education has published a call for proposals for forming a Technology Transfer Company (TTC) for the colleges it sponsors. (According to Amiram Porath’s business development blog, in Israel TTCs are commercial entities that are legally separate from but fully owned by their university.)
Of course, there are examples of similar efforts in the U.S. such as the Tech Transfer Talent Network in Michigan, which we mentioned on the blog earlier this year. And I’m sure other examples are out there. Tell us about them by posting a comment below.
Has tech transfer in your area gone through this type of evolution? What’s working out well? What lessons learned can you share? (If you’re feeling shy, feel free to send me a private message.)