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Editor-in-Chief,   Anatole Krattiger

Editorial Board

Concept Foundation


Fiocruz, Brazil

bioDevelopments-   Institute

The Policy and Legal Environment for Innovation
Topic Guide for Technology Transfer Managers

Why This Topic Is Important

This section covers a full gamut of issues that can shape the national policy and legal environment for innovation and technology transfer. These include the oversight of the courts, legislation over IP protection, ownership, and access, and funding of science and higher education, as well as the need for compliance with international agreements, realistic expectations about the amount of revenues that can come from technology transfer, and the delicate and complex dynamics that can lead regional innovation clusters to succeed or fail. By understanding these issues, you will better understand the nature of the innovation environment within you are seeking to transfer technologies, and from the examples of other countries’ experiences you will draw inspiration for how you and your institution might influence your country’s innovative environment for the better.

Key Implications and Best Practices: Section 3

Given that IP management is heavily context specific, these Key Implications and Best Practices are intended as starting points to be adapted to specific needs and circumstances.

  • Traditionally, the mission of a technology transfer program was to bring university-generated intellectual property into use as rapidly as possible. But public sector technology transfer has evolved to serve broader purposes: to enhance the reputation of the institution. Successful technology transfer can help it achieve its missions of education, research, and community outreach; to ensure social impact; and to provide funds for further research.
  • The laws relating to new technologies are evolving. Recent court decisions may have an impact on business and technological matters relevant to the operations of your technology transfer office (TTO).
  • A TTO has much responsibility in creating incentives to move discoveries into the product development arena, motivating public sector researchers, not by the promise of revenue streams (which rarely appear), but by the satisfaction of seeing their work developed and applied to serve the public good.
  • An understanding of not only the law, but also the public policy that underlies it. For example, with the Bayh-Dole Act in the United States, the policy rationale is not directed toward revenue generation, but rather toward moving publicly funded R&D into the marketplace to serve the public good.
  • Financial benefits from technology transfer can take many years to realize—if they ever do materialize—so it is important to be realistic when making forecasts about expected income. International benchmark data indicate that a positive return can take eight to ten years to achieve. It is prudent not to justify the cost of technology transfer functions on the basis of financial returns.
  • The difficulties of managing and promoting technology transfer within a smaller research institution need to be recognized, and the office should actively seek partnerships with other entities, such as local venture capital firms, incubators, and business development agencies. Alliances with other institutions, or a central TTO for several institutions, may also constitute viable alternative strategies.
  • In a dynamic innovation cluster, authoritative IP management capacity, technology transfer, and licensing are all essential. Flexibility in licensing and partnership arrangements, and speedy action and decision making are equally important.
  • TTOs are often ideally placed to define and nurture an entrepreneurial culture in the faculty. There can be large gains from such efforts.
  • TTOs can, if appropriately structured, become a source of creative networking and collaboration, generating both academic and commercial success. Hence, this role in driving the success of clusters will be absolutely essential.

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Show AbstractAbstract Echoes of Bayh-Dole? A Survey of IP and Technology Transfer Policies in Emerging and Developing Economies
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Show AbstractAbstract The Role of Clusters in Driving Innovation
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Show AbstractAbstract U.S. Laws Affecting the Transfer of Intellectual Property
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