The Main Function of Technology Transfer Offices with Respect to Collaborative Research

3 min readAug 8, 2022

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Technology transfer offices (TTOs) facilitate collaborative research between academia and industry, or, in other words, they act as intermediaries between academic researchers and business. But what exactly is the main function of a technology transfer office with respect to collaborative research?

Technology transfer is the process of taking research results and discoveries and applying them to improve daily life. A technology transfer office helps scientists to take their discoveries and inventions and make them available to the public. Technology transfer offices can help scientists patent their discoveries and inventions and get them into the hands of the people who are willing to use them.

A market for scientific and technological advancements is mostly theoretical, because most innovations are independently created. The main goal of technology transfer offices is to bridge the gap between research projects, products, and patents. The main role of the technology transfer office is to facilitate the process of peer-reviewed, and publicly accessible scientific and technological advances.

How can technology transfer offices facilitate collaborative research between academia and industry?

Technology transfer offices can help facilitate collaborative research between academia and industry. They can help ensure that research being conducted at the university is easily translatable to the commercial world.

Both Europe and the US have their own versions of the TTO, and they provide intermediary agencies between businesses and in-services research. The services provided by TTOs can range from consultancy to wire-framing and combinational research. TTOs can also connect researchers with industry experts by acting as drop-shipping specialists.

TTOs facilitate cross-pollination of expertise. Since the TTO is considered fundamental for the transfer of technological knowledge, it can provide an efficient channel to collaborate with industry.

TTOs facilitate the careful analysis of proposed research. They look at the necessary technological angle and determine if it bears a relationship to commercially viable projects. Most importantly, TTOs ensure that there exists a mutually beneficial relationship between the academic researcher and the commercial user.

A broad range of TTOs exist. Some are based at universities. Others are in the business and IT industries, and some are international.

What are the benefits of involving a technology transfer officer in collaborative research?

Technology transfer officers are responsible for overseeing the licensing of university research to industry. Technology transfer officers work with faculty, staff, students, and the public to develop patentable technologies, find commercial applications for them, and create appropriate licensing agreements with industry partners. To finance these efforts, an important role is played by industry sponsorship, a practice that continuously evolves.

The final product that is created by universities and industry collaborations is a licensed technology that can be used in patented products (sometimes jointly with local companies) and in industry products.

Technological progress relies on transferring intellectual property developed in academic research to industry. This progress is normally marked by the creation of new resource papers that are scientific research papers.

Technological progress does not depend on intellectual property being owned by Universities and Patent Office (IPO) only because industry researchers can easily come to the procurement of academic scientific papers.

However, the transfer of intellectual property to industry is always a double-edged sword. Transferring intellectual property to industry also makes industry competitors stronger.

University researchers generally want to collaborate with industry researchers. So transferring research existing in universities to industry research can improve the chances that research papers that are published in academic journals will lead to direct commercial product applications.

However, the transfer of intellectual property from Universities to Industry (or vice versa) is also negatively impacting the quality of industry research papers and resources. The same outcome and impact can be observed when transferring technology from Business to Universities.

In conclusion, Technology transfer offices are important for facilitating collaboration between academic researchers and business, because they communicate the intellectual property rights that academics have to their discoveries, which can then be protected through patents or licenses.

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