Fostering a culture of innovation, where the results of research are exploited for the benefit of EU citizens, is a tenet of the European Research Area. Therefore, transferring to market actors technologies with a commercial or job creation impact is a priority for the JRC. This implies careful assessment of emerging inventions, protection of intellectual property assets, and identification of suitable customers or partners to bring technologies to the market.
Protection of technological assets
The JRC produces technological assets in the course of its mission to provide scientific advice and technical know-how to support the EU policy-making process. Inventions like technological developments, software and new databases are reported to the JRC Technology Transfer Office, who then makes an assessment on whether to protect the reported invention. This evaluation process is based on the nature of the invention and the context in which it is made, on the state-of-the art in this particular technological field, and on the commercialisation potential of the invention. Protection of promising inventions is then pursued by the most appropriate means, like patent, copyright, or trademark. All IP rights obtained belong to the European Union.
With the involvement of the inventors, the JRC actively seeks partners that have the expertise, resources, and business networks to pursue further development and exploitation of protected inventions for the benefit of EU citizens. Some examples of technologies currently being developed and/or available for academic or commercial licensing can be found in JRC’s technology portfolio.
Licensing to existing entities
The licensing strategy of the JRC is not driven by return on investment but rather seeks to maximise the impact of its research results. If the maximum impact is to be reached by large dissemination, then the JRC can opt for granting non-exclusive licences to a wide range of partners. If the impact will be maximised by granting commercial licenses, then the JRC will look for potential licensees and identify mutual interests and plans to commercialise the concerned technology. In any case, a license agreement is usually concluded between the JRC and the Licensee,. As a public research organisation, the JRC tends to remain the owner of the technologies it develops and not to conclude assignment agreements whereby the ownership is transferred to a third party. An option agreement is often used prior to licensing to enable a third party to evaluate the technology and its market potential.
If the best commercialisation path is to confer a licence to a newly formed start-up company, the JRC will support its founders in creating and finding funding for the start-up. Although the JRC cannot fund nor invest in kind in the start-up, 6 of such companies have been created in the recent years and are still in operation today:
- KMG solutions
Foster a culture of innovation
One of the key aspects when it comes to increasing the pace of innovation in Europe is the need for a cultural reunion between researchers in public organisations and universities and innovation actors. The difficulty to translate research results into products and services for the market is related to factors such as a clash of culture between researchers and market and financial actors or the immaturity of laboratory technologies to attract industrial partners. To bridge this gap between research results and the market, the JRC has put in place awareness raising programmes on IP and entrepreneurship and is financing proof-of concept studies to bring technologies closer to the market.
In 2010, the projects funded under this proof-of-concept programme were across different fields of interest and application:
- Development of spectrally interrogated multiplexing biochips for label-free analysis of complex biological samples.
- Industrial Prototyping of an All Weather Area Surveillance Device for Moving Target Detection.
- Development of portable system for contactless detection of hidden people.
- Design and Development of a pocket diffusive sampler for VOCs to POPs.
- Portable energy storage box.
- Development of a Novel Software Package for Design Review of Safety-Related Systems of Critical Installations.
- Production of a ready-to use GMO screening test kit for enforcement purposes + development of a decision support software for evaluating data obtained by combinatory qPCR screening analysis (application to the detection of Genetically Modified Organisms).
- Cassette system for automated synthesis of Bi-213 labelled radiopharmaceuticals.
- Nano Crystalline UO2 – Industry application
- Automatic multilingual indexing of parliamentary documents.
For more information on technology transfer, you can contact the JRC Unit for IP and Technology Transfer.