Bringing university research to the marketplace

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7 May 2013

Around 300 senior representatives of industry, academia and government gathered at a two day-conference organised jointly by the EPO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Technische Universität München (TUM) to look at how to create markets out of research results. Held at the EPO headquarters in Munich, the conference focused on how governments, universities and business can better work together to exploit scientific knowledge by fostering solid management of intellectual property (IP) in universities, and strengthening collaboration between academia and industry.

EPO Vice-President Raimund Lutz

"Effective IP management must become a cornerstone of every university's strategy. Taking a strategic view on their intellectual assets can help universities put their research results to better use for society. This will enhance their relevance to society and, at the same time, support economic development," EPO Vice-President Raimund Lutz said, opening the conference. While the definition of appropriate IP strategies in this context is the role of each member state, the European Patent Academy through its educational training activities and materials, has a strong mandate to secure and enhance an enduring IP culture in Europe, he added.

Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD

Noting that much of the knowledge generated from public research already enters the marketplace, Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, emphasised the need to improve co-operation among universities, governments and industry to help these markets grow faster: "We have to think of the commercialisation of university research in terms of new sources of growth," he said. "Many countries, notably in Europe, are still in the midst of a sharp slowdown. Not only is macroeconomic management needed, but also structural change that can mobilise currently underused reservoirs of growth, of which innovation is the main one."

TUM President Professor Wolfgang A. Herrmann underlined the openness of his university to the needs of society: "Through their inventions, scientists at TUM provide the basis for technological innovations that add value to the economy. Being a public university, we want to protect our research for the public good. Universities should use IP properly. The TUM has established an IP policy to integrate research results into the value chain and thus promote the continuous development of innovative products and technologies. We encourage entrepreneurial thinking and acting while remaining very research-oriented," said Professor Herrmann. Currently, the university holds 211 patent families (with 365 first patent filings overall) and can claim more than 220 university spin-offs since 2002.

Georg Schütte, State Secretary of the German Ministry of Education and Research; Professor Wolfgang A. Herrmann, TUM President; Raimund Lutz, EPO Vice-President; Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD; Richard Flammer, EPO Principal Director Patent Information - European Patent Academy

In his opening plenary address, Georg Schütte, State Secretary of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) highlighted the value of universities for the economy by setting out the five underlying principles of Germany's research policy. Based on a holistic approach which builds on trend monitoring of innovation and society, the concept of bringing public and private research together is key, and has also translated into increased R&D funding: In the past seven years, public R&D expenditure has grown from 2% of GDP to 2.9% in 2011: "We are very close to the 3% postulated in the Lisbon Treaty," Mr Schütte said," and there is even discussion of a 3.5% share by 2020." Strategies such as the 'Initiative for Excellence' which provides additional annual funding of some EUR 350 million for universities and research institutions are key instruments of Germany's public research policy.

markets04 (JPG)

Through plenary sessions, expert presentations and panel discussions, the conference "Creating Markets from Research Results" examined the various channels for enhancing the transfer and application of the knowledge generated by academic research such as university-industry collaboration, entrepreneurship, IP management and policies, new models for technology transfer organisations, and also looked at the effect of open science on innovation.

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