Towards an Italian Way of Public Research Valorisation: The Importance of Time and Commitment
The R&D Management Conference
Posted: 14 Feb 2008 Last revised: 4 Mar 2008
Date Written: July 4, 2007
The paper is an attempt to discuss the strategies, actions and results of Italian university Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs), most of which have been set up recently, since the late Nineties. For this purpose, relevant data have been collected in a four-year annual survey (2002-2005) which the authors are coordinating within NetVal, the Italian University Network for the Valorisation of Research, in collaboration with Proton Europe and Crui. Data collected directly during the survey have been used to investigate the characteristics of Italian TTOs in terms of age, experience, size and valorisation strategies. The empirical evidence seems to suggest the existence of several concurring processes, with a strong impact on TTOs' performances. The development of a valorisation culture among Italian TTOs plays a critical role in determining better performances as TTOs get older and more experienced, but it also requires time and experience in order to occur. The progressive professionalization of TTO staff is strictly dependent on the intensity of the commitment of the staff itself and it does not necessarily require a long time in order to be achieved. Consequently, young and less experienced TTOs might exhibit rather good performances since their very first years of activity. Last but not least, imitation effects at national level have pushed an increasing number of Italian universities to get more deeply involved in TT activities. Despite the fascinating power of the (not always) profitable US licensing model, this appears to be not replicable within the Italian context, where the main mission of TTOs is generally recognized as that of effectively valorising the results of academic research, i.e. bringing them to application, rather than increasing licensing income for universities and inventors. In this respect, the possibility for the TTOs to contribute to the creation of an Italian way in the valorisation of results from public research - in which TTOs' managers are seeking to establish themselves in the role of service providers and their main mission is the carrying out of efficient and effective TT activities from academia to industry - appears to be not only desirable but also feasible.
Keywords: technology transfer, university technology transfer offices, research exploitation
JEL Classification: O31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation