Publication and Technology Transfer
What is Technology Transfer?
Technology transfer (sometimes called "'valorisation") involves the transfer of (intellectual) property rights on academic knowledge through sale, or permission for its development, to a recipient third party, e.g. government institutions and businesses. Thus the recipient obtains the right to develop the acquired knowledge further into a product (in the broadest possible sense of the word) which may then be developed commercially, either by the recipient or a designated partner.
The University, by decree, owns any research results developed within the institution. In principle this means that all (and not only technological) academic knowledge developed by a researcher and for which the University has at least partial property rights or other development rights, can be the subject of technology transfer.
In certain circumstances (e.g. research under contract), property rights on research results developed at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel may be transferred to a third party on an ad hoc basis, which is why it is important to examine the legal status of the knowledge to be transferred. Properly assessing the development potential that the finding holds is a crucial factor when opening a technology transfer dossier.
Why is Technology Transfer important?
In addition to supplying education and research, the university has a third, valuable role in society, namely rendering a social and scientific service. The objective is to channel knowledge developed within the university into society. Technology transfer permits the university to enter into research contracts with governmental organisations and businesses, with a view to furthering a specific research project, but it also creates the conditions for the transfer of knowledge assets developed within the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (protected or otherwise) to appropriate partners in society.
The aim of the University's policy on technology transfer is therefore to create added value for both society and the University itself. There are various transfer mechanisms, e.g. licensing, trade and establishing spin-offs. Technology transfer promotes education and research within the institution as it generates funds for further research and know-how development.
Technology transfer versus publication?
First protect, then publish!
The misconception persists that in research (especially patenting of research results) technology transfer precludes publication. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is true that it is important to maintain secrecy about research findings with development potential so as not to jeopardise future patent applications (or other forms of protection) and postpone publication until steps have been taken to ensure their protection. Until you have done so, it is of the utmost importance to have any third party with whom you wish to discuss your research results sign a secrecy agreement.
If your research has produced an interesting result, you are advised to contact the University's Technology Transfer Interface (TTI) without delay so as to enable them to determine whether your findings offer opportunities for development. Protection of your research results may then be considered and, if desired, arranged. After this procedure, however, you are free to publish your results or disseminate them by any other means. Too many opportunities for technology transfer are lost, which is why timely consultation with the TTI is essential so as to maximise the potential of your findings. Even when publication is urgent, there are ways to protect your results by a fast-track procedure. Protecting your results is worth every penny - literally!
Technology Transfer Regulations
The way in which academic knowledge may be subjected to technology transfer has been laid down in the Technology Transfer Regulations, available from TTI at the Research & Development Department (see below for contacts).
If you are an academic researcher and you suspect that your research may have the potential for technology transfer, i.e. your findings may lead to the development of a marketable product, you should contact the TTI of the Research & Development Department, where you will be asked to complete the Declaration Form for Research Results with Technology Transfer Potential. This form provides the researcher and the TTI with all the data necessary to assess whether technology transfer can be realised.
Starting a Technology Transfer procedure
The decision on the suitability of any research results submitted for technology transfer rests with the Technology Transfer Interface (TTI), always in consultation with the researcher. If the decision is favourable, the technology transfer procedure will be started following approval of the dossier by the Council of Rectors. The TTI, possibly aided by external consultancy firms, will work in close co-operation with the researcher throughout the technology transfer procedure.
Continuous and critical assessment of the opportunities for technology transfer are the key to the entire transfer process. For this reason regular consultations and optimum co-operation between the TTI and the researchers involved are crucial.
In principle, the technology transfer procedure is fully financed by the Guarantee Fund of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The proceeds from technology transfer are used to reimburse out-of-pocket costs (not the services provided by the TTI!).
One-third of the net proceeds is allocated to the Guarantee Fund in order to ensure the operation of an efficient technology transfer policy at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The remaining two-thirds are payable to the University research team responsible for producing the results which went on to be the subject of technology transfer. This share is used towards financing further scientific research by the team. The individual researcher may be allocated a maximum of one-third of the net proceeds (i.e. a maximum of half the research team's share) by the University's Executive Board. Special requests to this effect may be addressed to the Board.
The Technology Transfer Interface (TTI) at the Research & Development Department is happy to assist you with any further information you may require (for contacts, see below). Contact them also for a copy of the Technology Transfer Regulations containing a more in-depth description of the procedure outlined above, as well as for a copy of the Declaration Form for Research Results with Technology Transfer Potential.
Click here for more information and contact details.