by Céline Serrano and Katarzyna Kucharczyk
The European project FITT has developed a toolbox for technology transfer (TT) practitioners who work in support of innovation in information and communication technologies (ICT). The motivation is clear: efficient technology transfer is an essential element to transform innovative ideas and research results into new products and services. However, it is a complex job that requires specific tools and a high level of professionalism.
The diversity of tasks performed by technology transfer officers (TTO) often makes their work challenging and far from routine. The scarcity of codified knowledge and standardized processes means that often, the only way to improve one’s performance is through learning from experience. The FITT Toolbox (available online on www.fitt-for-innovation.eu) provides a selection of practices from seven partner organizations, which evaluated the solutions fitting the most common needs of TTOs. The idea was to share our know-how and experience in order to build tools for use by TT offices which may have to deal with the same kind of problems. In a situation that requires starting from scratch, it may be particularly useful to try solutions which have already worked well somewhere else. Officers may also benefit from the opportunity to compare the methods of others with their own and to pick up some "lessons learned".
FITT project team.
The variety of partners' profiles meant that a broad scope of experience and complementary skills were brought into the Toolbox. Groups involved in the project – which lasted from 2008 to 2011 – included research institutes, university networks, research-industry interface organizations, business schools and innovation agencies from five EU countries: Luxembourg, France, Germany, Belgium and UK (for details see: http://www.fitt-for-innovation.eu/index.php?id=3812). The project is funded under North-West Europe INTERREG IVB programme priority one: capitalizing on innovation. The innovations issued from ICT (meanwhile recognized as a key factor for advancement of industry and cutting-edge research) generally have some specificity in areas of science, law or economics, and these are included in our ICT-oriented tools.
The practical dimension of the Toolbox is reflected by its structure: it is divided into five main activities which cover the entire valorisation chain, from detection of transfer opportunity, intellectual property protection and evaluation of market potential to attracting the interest of future investors. The user can quickly go through the content and find information according to one’s needs. Composed of several layers – the more detailed containing practices and case studies elaborated by FITT partners – the toolbox also gives insights on impact, lessons learned, tips and ideas for possible improvements.
We have designed the FITT Toolbox as a support tool for the day to day work of a TTO, so one of the priorities was to make it useful for the maximum possible number of practitioners across Europe. While the first version is already available online, a number of practices are currently being tested by FITT partners in order to check their relevance to different conditions and facility of adaptation to each organization's environment. This should result in improvements and upgrade of the toolbox content towards greater usability and flexibility.
Philippe Laurent, expert in intellectual property law and ICT from the University of Namur, received a positive first impression of the toolbox: "I've been impressed by the structure and the extensive character of its content. One notices immediately that it has been created on the basis of a real and in-depth sharing of knowledge and know-how (...).”
Furthermore, the practices and use cases integrated in the Toolbox will be used as a part of a transnational TT training programme created within the FITT project, the pilots of which will be launched in 2011. In order to receive feedback and keep improving the Toolbox and the training programme, as well as to share experience and ideas between professionals, a Community of Practice has been started on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=2808204&trk=anet_ug_hm). The position paper containing recommendations for ICT technology transfer and the FITT Bibliography with selected “must-reads” will be available soon.
FITT Communication Manager
MFG Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
Tel: +49 711 90715 366
Céline Serrano and Katarzyna Kucharczyk
Transfer and Innovation department, INRIA, France