Strengths of different models for technology transfer support

Through our policy and strategy work, IP Pragmatics has gained an in-depth insight into the different ways that universities in the UK and abroad structure the support that they provide for technology transfer activities, and how they are aligned with the wider knowledge exchange and impact agenda. Through a combination of desk research and direct interviews with key practitioners, we have examined the strengths and weaknesses of these different approaches in a new white paper entitled “Technology Transfer Support: An assessment of the models used in UK universities”.

Many UK universities use internal departments, staffed by university employees, to provide their technology transfer activities. One of the main benefits of an internal department is the potential to offer a more joined-up approach to ensure that the technology transfer functions are supporting the university’s wider Impact agenda, along with closer integration with the academics. However, university constraints can lead to slower, more bureaucratic processes, and some avoidance of risk.

In order to support a separate commercial technology transfer business, it is necessary to have a consistently high level of research outputs to produce a reliable income stream. A separate company gives a commercial face to external businesses, and can give greater flexibility when attracting high calibre staff, but must be carefully managed to ensure alignment with the university. Between these two extremes, universities today are using other blended models to bolster their capabilities with judicious use of collaboration and outsourcing of specialised functions.

There is no single right or wrong way to support technology transfer. Flexibility is needed to allow individual universities to pick, choose and modify the approaches that suit them, and to set their own priorities in terms of outcomes and impact that fit with their particular research structure and local environment.

For more information, please contact Elaine Eggington. The full white paper can be accessed through the following link: Technology Transfer Support: An assessment of the models used in UK universities.

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