What is Technology Transfer?
Technology Transfer is a process of applying fundamental aspects of research into practical technologies that support industrial and societal need. Technology Transfer is the commercialization of R&D results, or the exploitation by a business of technology developed in one area for use in another. Technology transfer can be done through licensing, selling rights to other companies, or direct investment. A company according to Fintalent’s technology transfer consultants, may also make an agreement with another company to develop and market a given product or process together.
When using technology from university research labs, firms often look for ways to patent inventions before they are made public so that they can retain ownership and eventual profits. Technology-transfer offices may also help companies negotiate for a share of the profits from the inventions they have developed.
The technology transfer process begins with the creation of a new product, service, or technology. The results are then evaluated and analyzed to determine their commercial potential and if it is worth applying for a patent. The term “technology transfer” is used both for the process by which research results are transferred to industry, and for the organization within industry that functions to do this.
There are two types of technology transfer: indirect and direct transfers. Indirect transfers happen when scientific discoveries are used in business operations without reaching industry directly. .
Direct transfers happen when the results are used directly by industry to produce a new product or process. This can occur through an entirely new business entity (for example, a spinoff company), a joint venture with an existing company, or hiring an individual (a “whiz kid”) from one’s own ranks to join the firm and help develop products.
The benefits to both parties in direct technology transfers include lower production costs and time, which leads to higher profits for both parties and greater growth for each company.
Transfers in transportation technology have on-going costs of fuel and wear-and tear on equipment. Direct technology transfers in science and engineering have higher costs due to higher wages for research and development workers, but lower capital costs. The potential gains of technologies acquired from direct technology transfers in these areas include a lower likelihood of negative or unintended consequences (e.g., a possible future terrorist attack) as well as higher productivity, efficiency, and quality through the use of technological advancements.
This is particularly true for industries that have specific regulatory needs which cannot be met internally by the organization. Technology transfer is one way to get the expertise needed that can be developed within a company and allow innovation under regulatory constraints.
Many scholars have shown that technology transfer is a process of relationship building that also occurs through horizontal, interactive networks that help make information and resources available to the organization in need. The resulting products and services help create new jobs, provide training to employees, improve the quality of life for those who use them, and bring about economic growth in the areas where they are available.
In some cases, non-profit organizations can function as technology transfer intermediaries between universities and business. For example, in the late 1990s the Technology Strategy Board was created to fund research on new technologies for sustainable development. It was funded by the European Union and the UK government, but conducted its business outside of them. The TSB is co-ordinating its activities through a partnership with two technology transfer agencies in London. One agency is specifically for microprocessing and telecoms technology, called the Technology Transfer Company (TTC). It supplies companies with private sector experts to bring about technological change. The second agency is called the Consultants in Business Development programme (CBD) it functions as an intermediary between researchers and firms.
The Technology Strategy Board has suggested that: “Technology transfer should be managed through a deliberate set of arrangements such as those we have introduced… This will ensure that, in addition to the commercial advantages of technology transfer, a broader range of benefits are encouraged and benefits for society and the environment are also promoted.”