Knowledge and technology transfer


EU firms are struggling to better exploit public-funded research and transform findings into patents and innovations that generate growth. Barriers to collaboration between the public and private sectors still exist, in particular when it comes to sharing revenues and costs.

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While science has become increasingly important for innovation and thus competitiveness, the European Commission argues that "making better use of publicly funded R&D is a significant problem" in the EU.

Increasing access to knowledge by sharing research results and improving knowledge transfer between public research and industry was identified, in April 2007, as one of the objectives of the relaunched European Research Area (ERA). A Communication on improving knowledge transfer between research institutions and industry across Europe calls for better exploitation of research results and reveals that an average university in Europe generates far fewer inventions and patents compared to its North American counterpart. 

  • Knowledge transfer comprises capturing and transmitting research findings, skills and competence from those who generate them to those who transform them into economic outcomes - either explicitly (patents) or tacitly (know-how). It includes both commercial and non-commercial activities such as research collaborations, consultancy work, licensing, the creation of spin-offs, mobility of researchers and the publication of scientific articles. 
  • Technology transfer is the process of developing practical applications for scientific research. It is a term used to describe a formal transfer of rights to use and commercialise new discoveries and innovations resulting from scientific research to another party.