Notes on Technology Transfer

Technology Transfer is the intersection between business, science, engineering, law and government ...

Technology transfer is the process by which basic science research and fundamental discoveries are developed into practical and commercially relevant applications and products. Technology Transfer personnel evaluate and manage invention portfolios, oversee patent prosecution, negotiate licensing agreements and periodically review cooperative research agreements already in place. Part of the technology transfer process involves the prosecution of patents which is overseen by the national Patent and Trademark Office. Individuals with advanced degrees in the biomedical sciences are needed to review and process patents in the biotechnology field.

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TT Function: Coordinate
Coordinating between technology users and developers, between researchers and manufactures is an important element of technology transfer. Access to relevant internal and external resources to individual projects and enterprises has to be enabled.

TT Function: Nurture
A main ingredient for moving technology from a research laboratory to a new business enterprise successfully is an environment that is supportive of entrepreneurship. This needs to be encouraged by providing guidance, counseling and resources.

TT Function: Link
Cataloging resources related to business enterprises and connecting would-be entrepreneurs/researchers and other technology developers to outside groups and organizations which can help in the process of starting new products, companies etc. Such linkages provide referrals for individual business counseling, sources of financing or the names of individuals who can help with a particular facet of business development.

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An Emerging Technology is an innovative technology that currently is undergoing bench-scale testing, in which a small version of the technology is tested in a laboratory.

An Innovative Technology is a technology that has been field-tested and applied to a hazardous waste problem at a site, but lacks a long history of full-scale use. Information about its cost and how well it works may be insufficient to support prediction of its performance under a wide variety of operating conditions.

An Established Technology is a technology for which cost and performance information is readily available. Only after a technology has been used at many different sites and the results fully documented is that technology considered established.

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The objectives of creativity & innovation :

  • to offer guidance and assistance to inventors and corporations in matters of intellectual property
  • to provide a meeting place for inventors and entrepreneurs to come together to exchange names and information
  • to provide a hands-on learning opportunity to gain experience in dealing with "real-world" aspects of intellectual property law practice
  • to increase the general awareness of intellectual property and its increasing importance as we further move into the Information Age

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Technology Transfer Activities include:
processing and evaluating invention disclosures; filing for patents; technology marketing; licensing; protecting intellectual property arising from research activity; and assisting in creating new businesses and promoting the success of existing firms. The result of these activities will be new products, more high-quality jobs, and an expanded economy.

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Commercialization is one effective method of transferring technologies. Establishing a technology's prospects for commercial success depends largely on five factors:

  1. Technical Development: The time, materials, and personnel needed to reduce the technology to practice and protect rights to the resulting product.
  2. Regulatory Clearance: The testing needed to demonstrate the product's utility and safety, and to meet federal regulatory requirements and to minimize or manage associated risks.
  3. Manufacturing Requirements: The facilities, people, and equipment needed to make the product.
  4. Market Development: The plan for successful marketing of the product, created by assessing perceived need for the product, size of potential market, expected sales, advantages over competing products, and the cost of promoting the product.
  5. Financial Feasibility: The development costs,costs to produce, operating expenses in relation to sales potential, net profits, potential liabilities, and return on investment.

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Using New Technologies: A Technology Transfer Guidebook


Section 1, Motivating Technology Transfer, justifies the use of a technology transfer process and gives you a roadmap to the guidebook's contents.
Section 2, Understanding the Technology Transfer Process, introduces the technology transfer process, introduces technology transfer concepts, and gives you the information you need to start and use the process guidance.
Sections 3 through 7 contain guidance for the five steps of the technology transfer process as follows:
Section 3, Look at Your Situation: Understand Context, helps you understand your internal and external environment regarding the transfer and define objectives and strategies for how to proceed.
Section 4, Choose the Right Path: Analyze Risks and Select Strategy, helps you understand the risks associated with the transfer and select the right strategy to follow.
Section 5, Focus the Transfer: Plan Technology Implementation, helps you plan the next step of the technology implementation.
Section 6, Getting it Done: Implement Technology, helps you implement the transfer as defined in the plan.
Section 7, Determine Where to Go Next: Review and Update Transfer Plan, helps you understand the results of the transfer to date and how to proceed based on the results.
Section 8, Improving Your Technology Transfer Process, provides general guidelines for how to become proactive in technology transfer.
The Appendix, Checklists for Applying the Technology Transfer Process, provides checklists that summarize the tasks you would perform in a technology transfer.

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Technology Transfer Initiative with Minority and Small Businesses and Manufacturers
The initiative's several goals include establishing a marketing strategy to provide minority businesses with technology transfer opportunities, assisting with establishing a minority technology transfer consortium, developing and seeking funding for minority industrial fellowships, strengthening minority employee recruitment through the consortium; linking the Science Education and External Relations program with the Technology Transfer Initiative, providing minority businesses and various divisions with technical assistance as it relates to technology transfer, and establishing a tracking system to provide follow-up on all activities.

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"The process by which existing knowledge, facilities or capabilities developed under federal R&D funding are utilized to fulfill public and private needs."

Although this process can be very simple or quite complex, it basically involves a technical resource (e.g., federal laboratory), a user (e.g., small business), and some interface connecting the two.

"Technology transfer" includes a range of formal and informal cooperations between technology developers and technology seekers. In addition, technology transfer involves the transfer of knowledge and technical-knowhow as well as physical devices and equipment.

Some of the mechanisms that make technology transfer possible include: joint research, cooperative agreements, licensing, technical meetings, trade shows, and information dissemination.

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Constitueients of Technology Transfer Processes
  • Technology Transfer
  • Technology Promotion
  • Technology Deployment
  • Technology Innovation
  • Technology Development
  • Technology Research
  • Technology Assessment
  • Technology Information and communication
  • Technology Investment
  • Technology Collaboration
  • Technology Commercialization

TIPS Method (Technology Implementation Potential for Success)
Sample Technology Transfer TIPS

Communication Factors TIPS:
Diffusion of information about new technology is predominantly a process of communication. Anything that impedes communication within the organization, as well as within the environment it interacts in, will jeopardize the successful implementation of the technology within the organization.

Financial Factors TIPS:
A primary concern is the fiscal justification in terms of returns on the investment and the irreversibility of the investment, where adoption requires investments in unsalvageable products. The payback period and the significance of the payback are intrinsic to the justification.

External Factors TIPS:
The decision to adopt technology is heavily influenced by environmental factors. These are the events occurring in the industry, market, country and the world in general, within which the organization interacts.

Human Factors TIPS:
Ultimate users of new technology must do something different from what they have done in the past. They must change their behaviour patterns. A consequence of this is that it cannot be expected that the recipients will respond to new technology quickly. They must not only assimilate facts relevant to the technology, but also change behavioral patterns that would lead them to use the technology. Also, it is human nature to resist ideas, especially those originating from outside of the organization, and this can lead to myopia or tunnel vision. A clear implication is that technology transfer requires time, patience and opportunities to experiment (become familiar with) a new technology.

Corporate Factors TIPS:
The decision to adopt technology is also heavily influenced by organizational factors. Organizations are more likely to be willing and able to adopt technologies that offer clear advantages, do not drastically interfere with existing practices, and are easier to understand. Adopters look unfavourably on innovations that are difficult to evaluate or which benefits are difficult to see or describe.

Technology Factors TIPS:
The decision to adopt technology is influenced by the technology itself. This is a fundamental truth. All other factors being equal, if the technology fails to live up to the expectations of the eventual users, then its implementation will not be successful.

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Users/beneficiaries of Technology Transfer:

  • technology transfer agents who are responsible for the search, adaptation or translation, packaging and dissemination, training and ensurement that a new
  • technology is properly implemented, accepted and used to its full potential by a target user;
  • individuals responsible for technology transfer functions;
  • individuals charged with the responsibility of making decisions as to whether a technology is considered for implementation within the organization;
  • individuals charged with budgeting responsibilities which encompass evaluating the cost of new technology;
  • individuals charged with strategic and business planning responsibilities within the organization;
  • individuals who are being trained to perform any of the above noted functions;
  • inventors, vendors, licensors and purchasers of technology.

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Technology Transfer: An African Perspective

Does the sale of a technology constitute technology transfer? The introduction of a technology into a developing country, is understood by some developed countries as having achieved the objective of technology transfer.

Technology transfer is not about selling some hardware to a client who is then left with the task of using it as he/she deems fit. Technology transfer is the imparting of knowledge, skills and methodologies involved in the whole production cycle. Technology transfer is a system that encompasses the social and economic fabric of a country. Where technology has been effectively transferred, there should be a visible change - from the person to the production system as well as compatibility with the needs, in the institutional framework, skills, training, financial capacity, promotion, and active support of endogenous capacity and appreciation of the natural environment of the recipient country. Technology transfer also has to do with disseminating information on the technologies themselves.

The 1992 Earth Summit provided impetus for work on alternative sources of energy to halt the process of global warming. The development of technology is being seen as a panacea to this problem.

But recently, in an effort to capture the market for renewable energy technologies, the catchword is `penetration' and `speed'. However, the question is whether this modus operandi will be conducive to effective technology transfer. Clearly not. It takes time to break through fixations about familiar or entrenched ideas and technologies, just as the imparting of knowledge to local people. Where local participation in efforts to bring about new technology is lacking, it is unlikely that the efforts will bring about the desired effect.

Obviously, there are problems that act as barriers to appropriate technology transfer such as local capacity as well as the multinationals whose financial powers have in many cases weakened the strengths of governments. But a much bigger problem in effective and appropriate technology transfer is focused on the priorities of the donor or purveyor. The financial limitations of most countries in Africa means that they cannot choose the technologies best suited to them and, as a result, flexibility is compromised and development stillborn.

Source - Mbeki Maboyi, Zimbabwe Energy Research Organization

Tech-Transfer Process

There is a strong need for linkages to be developed and maintained between industry and research organizations. This requires the effective identification and specification of research needs, and knowledge of relevant research that is being conducted. For this to happen, industry needs to be involved at an early stage of research, so as to be able to participate even in the research definition stage. At the same time, public sector research organizations need to be prepared to support industry in the commercialization process. Efforts to erase preconceptions that build barriers to successful technology transfer should also be taken.

Sources - Workshop meeting of Japan - India Technology Network.

Some issues/themes in Technology Transfer:

Basic Understanding Of Technology Transfer
• What is Technology Transfer?
• Overview of Technology Transfer Legislation
• The Who of technology Transfer
• Technology Transfer Related Organizations

Hows and Whys of Technology Transfer
• Types of Technology Transfer
• What Drives Technology Transfer?
• Main Modes of Technology Transfer
• Benefits and Risks of Technology Transfer

Intellectual Property Issues
• Forms of Intellectual Property
• Overview of Patents and Copyrights
• Trademarks and Trade Secrets
• Owning and Protecting Intellectual Property

Technology Transfer Mechanisms
• Overview of TT Mechanisms
• License Agreements
• Government Funded Programs
• Grants and Cooperative Agreement

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Many definitions of technology transfer have been developed to suit the needs of the individual organizations or activities.:
The process by which existing knowledge, facilities or capabilities are utilized to fulfill public and private needs.
Although this process can be very simple or quite complex, it basically involves a technical resource (e.g., laboratory), a user (e.g., small business), and some interface connecting the two. Technology transfer remains part "science" and part "art," requiring to select an operating mode which works, the laboratory, and the clientele. "Technology transfer" includes a range of formal and informal cooperations between laboratories and the public and private sectors. The purpose of the transfer is to strengthen the economy by accelerating the application of laboratory technology and resources to private and public needs and opportunities. Product improvement, service efficiencies, improved manufacturing processes, joint development to address government and private sector needs, and the development of major new products for the international marketplace are the results of successful technology transfer efforts.


Government-Industry-non-profits-People-Equipment-Facilities Implementing TT includes the ingredients of licensing agreements, promotional publications, training courses, information exchange, participation in conferences and exhibitions, technical assistance

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The Technology Network - TechNet - consists of a series of World Bank Group initiatives in the area of science and technology (S&T) for development. These initiatives attempt to: (i) improve our understanding of the impact of new technologies on developing countries and the factors that enhance or restrict their ability to take advantage of them; (ii) raise awareness of member governments, Bank staff and management, and other potential donors/contributors to the opportunities and challenges for developing countries created by rapid technological progress; (iii) integrate technological concerns into the development strategies of member country governments and the Bank's country assistance strategies with a view to promote the adoption of new technologies by the private sector; and (iv) accelerate the transfer of new technologies to developing countries and their adaptation to local conditions, while promoting local capacity for technological development.

To achieve these objectives, TechNet:

  • acts as a clearinghouse and network for professionals inside and outside the Bank interested in S&T for development, facilitating connections and building support for technology-related initiatives;
  • disseminates information on issues of S&T for development, through seminars, brown-bag lunches, presentations in developing countries, reports on the barriers to the adoption of new technologies by the private sector, etc.;
  • supports conceptual work to improve understanding of S&T for development.

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