Exploring different models of technology transfer and their impact

Tech Transfer and Innovation in the GCC

61 minute read
28 June 2022

Speaker(s):

Public organisations (universities, research centres) as well as private tech companies are crucial for driving R&D activities. But translating the outputs of those R&D activities into innovation has always been a challenge for organisations. If you are managing an R&D or innovation programme at your organisation, it is crucial that you consider instituting some basic technology transfer practices to create value from your research investments.

In the second instalment of the 'Tech Transfer and Innovation in the GCC' webinar series, our panel from Canada, Qatar and the UAE share their experiences and perspectives of how technology transfer differs among regional universities and colleges and discuss the challenges in moving research to market.

In this instalment our speakers consider:

  • How does the TTO support research, industry collaboration and commercialisation at the organisation?
  • Different organisations employ different models for technology transfer
  • How can an organisation increase the impact of their technology transfer activities and how is this measured?

Below are some of the key takeaways shared by the panellists:

  • Technology transfer is not an overnight process - It can take years for a university to commercialise new technology and managing expectations of stakeholders is important.
  • The return on investment is generally slow - Technology transfer offices are facilitators, they are not profit generating centres. The return on investment is long-term and if successful their activities downstream lead to social and economic impact through the formation of new companies, products and services, job creation, improved standard of living, GDP contribution, etc.
  • Universities need to have the right balance of basic research and applied research - Basic research (or explorative research) rarely generates commercial IP. Applied research on the other hand is market driven. Having the right mix of both is essential for knowledge creation and dissemination and also important for managing expectations for technology transfer.
  • Technology licensing everywhere is a challenge - Universities find it easier to license new technology to a start-up than an established company because companies don't have the processes to test and adopt new technology and ensure product fit. It is easier to acquire a start-up than a new technology. Governments need to consider incentives for companies to work with universities to license in IP.
  • Incentivising researchers to invent and participate in the tech transfer process – universities typically share royalties from IP commercialisation with the inventors to incentivise them to support technology transfer. The average royalty share for inventors is between 33-38% of net revenue with some institutions offering up to 50% to attract and retain the best in the field.
  • Industry engagement is key to driving technology transfer: consider creating knowledge clusters of universities, research centres, and companies focused on particular sectors. Where industry invests in the research, it leads to 'market pull' inventions and more commercialisable IP.
  • IP analytics can help focus research on more attractive application areas - IP analytics can reveal what the technology trends are in a given sector, who are the key IP owners, your potential partners or competitors, complementary IP, and other information. Instituting a program where the analysis is carried out early (through interns, students) can avoid wasting resources on IP with low commercial potential.
  • IP ownership isn't the goal - Owning IP that you can't commercialise has zero impact for the university. Consider the wider mission of the university and how different models of ownership may have stronger impact.
  • How do we measure impact of tech transfer activities? Universities typically track the number of inventions disclosed, patents filed and granted, licenses negotiated and revenue generated. Two associations - AUTM (US) and ASTP (EU) – are widely recognised for promoting technology transfer and have developed metrics for measuring knowledge transfer.

If you have any comments or would like to discuss further, please reach out to Tamara El-Shibib on tamara.el-shibib@gowlingwlg.com.

Speakers

  • Tamara El-Shibib: Senior partner and tech transfer consultant at Gowling WLG
  • Dr Marc Nantel: VP Research and External Relations, Niagara College, Canada
  • John McEntire: Director of Industry Development and Knowledge Transfer, Qatar Foundation, Qatar
  • Dr Mohamed Al Hemairy: Head of TTO, University of Sharjah, UAE
  • Dr Sami Bashir, Director: Technology Management and Innovation, Khalifa University, UAE

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