Technology transfer is a process that moves innovation into public hands by creating relationships between inventors at research institutions and industry. Technology transfer ensures that the research institution retains the intellectual property rights of a technology while allowing the licensee conditional use of the technology. Technology Transfer Services include several processes to share knowledge, technology, skills, or manufacturing techniques between organizations.
The nature of the technology transfer services used will depend on the stage of the innovation process. The Technology Transfer Office partners with the university’s staff, faculty and students to help develop early stage intellectual property, which is created during research activities into tools for direct use by the research community, or into bases for new platforms, products, or services to be made into products for public use. Inventors must first define and disclose the nature of their invention, which will be evaluated for commercial potential.
An important technology transfer service is the evaluation of newly disclosed inventions. The staff at the technology transfer office assesses the intellectual property position and potential market for the technology. If there is no intellectual property available, no value to industry, or the technology is not competitive enough in its potential market, the office will not be able to invest in the invention. An invention management and commercialization strategy begins once the intellectual property rights are established.
Technology transfer requires a proactive approach that combines engaging researchers, promoting the technology, and encouraging potential industrial partners to use technology developed in a research institution. The research commercialization process typically involves establishing a commercial relationship with another party (e.g., employment, a sale or license), and negotiating a contract (e.g., compensation). Technology transfer licensing allows industrial partners to develop early stage intellectual property into finished products and market them for public use around the world. In some cases, a startup company is created and federally funded commercialization programs are applied to further develop the technology.
Technology Transfer Services also involve assisting the exchange of information between researchers and industry. Confidentiality Agreements are used to manage the outflow of proprietary information from the research institution, as well as receipt of external information. Similarly, proprietary research materials like cell lines and antibodies may be exchanged through a Material Transfer Agreement. Material Transfer Agreements ensure proper use, attribution, and compliance with obligations to the sponsor or provider of the materials.
Employing the services of a technology transfer office can help maximize the value of both the research institution and the industry partner. Technology transfer services provide the means to exchange information with experts in a particular field about a new process or material they would like to try. As the end user of a finished product is the public, the technology transfer office seeks agreements that are of mutual benefit for the research institution and the commercial partner. An entrepreneurial company can also benefit from technology transfer by incurring lower costs during the research and development stage of a new invention. A successful product in the market that is the result of technology transfer can bring recognition to both the research institution and the commercialization partner, and eventually lead to more successful ventures.