What is technology transfer and why should it interest you?

What is technology transfer and why should it interest you?

Technology Transfer, and its sibling Knowledge Transfer, have been spoken about frequently in recent years but when asked what they are, or for an example of their effectiveness, I find that people often look blank.

The main aim of technology transfer is to take the fundamental scientific discoveries and knowledge within the academic community and take them on a journey towards commercial exploitation and a marketable industry product. There are a number of vehicles for achieving this including licensing of intellectual property, setting up of joint ventures or spin-out companies, collaborative research and more, but the key is to take that valuable expertise and put it out there in the world.

A great example of technology transfer at work is the Coventry University spin out InoCardia which has been set up to provide contract research services for pharmaceutical companies, based on the work of Professor Helen Maddock and her research team. Professor Maddock’s academic work has centred on the cardiovascular system, how it works, reactions to disease and drugs, and the exploitation of this knowledge to form a basis for treatment and intervention. One of the key outputs of this work has been the development of an assay system which allows new drugs to be tested on real human heart tissue in a laboratory without the use of human or animal trials. The potential of this to reduce the cost and time associated with developing new pharmaceuticals will make a significant difference to how we develop drugs in the future.            

This is just one example of how a university’s expertise and knowledge can be transferred into the private sector to great effect and as a great piece of business.

So, next time you hear the phrase knowledge transfer or technology transfer perhaps you’ll consider it more closely and perhaps you’ll also consider talking to your knowledge transfer office about how we can work together effectively.

Alisdair Ritchie is the Knowledge Transfer Manager at Coventry University.


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