Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

What is the main issue to address if we want to accelerate the transfer of research into the market?

Discussion

This year the workshop will focus, among other issues, on how to speed up the transfer of research and innovation to the market. It is well known that European excellence in research is not reflected on the market positioning. It is still cumbersome and slow to transfer knowledge from universities to companies.  

In you experience, which is the single thing that should be discussed if we want to accelerate this transfer of research into the market? Do you have any experience on how  easy/ difficult is to create a company to commercialize research results? What are the main bottlenecks?

 

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Comments

Jose Angel Martinez-usero's picture

To my mind and having into account previous experiences in ICT for inclusion and design for all.... I daresay that most of the products and services produced in European research are designed without having into consideration the real needs, preferences and desires of the final customers/users... Therefore, normally it is a market failure or lack of acceptance. Normally from the research perspective we say "My idea is fantastic and will improve the quality of life of thousands of European citizens.... but I cannot sell it".
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Sofía Moreno-pérez's picture

ICT research must be link to real needs to be transferred. Today this link is not established. It can’t be made mixing pure research (10 year horizon to impact the market) with current needs. Putting together, in the same project, in the same time horizon, innovation based in the use of ICT as an enabler of new opportunities (huge potential for transferring!!!) with new research on ICT (future opportunities), is a way to develop science, but not with the aim of impacting the market. 10 years of time as market horizon is not realistic in any case on ICT. World is spinning much faster today! Suggestions: - Don’t mix pure R&D on ICT with applications close to the market. It will imply wasting money and effort in some direction. - Create programs where real multidisciplinary innovation, using and developing mature ICT solutions, could be carried on. Without the need of adding some unnecessary very complex ICT development that will never arrive to the market and that will only satisfy the objective of matching the call for proposal requirements. - Allow co-creation and new methodologies to face real demand from society and to provide real useful innovations.
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Francesco Mureddu's picture

I see nmajeang's point but there are other elements to be considered. On the one hand we need new funding mechanisms for innovation, more flexible and agile. On the other hand education in Europe is still highly theoretical and not business oriented, so that entrepreneurs fail in identifying potential business opportunities stemming from basic research
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Elena Torrente's picture

I agree with nmurefra that access to funding mechanisms for innovation are key for European SMEs and entrepreneurs. My point is that there is also a need to assess research and pilots' results in order to scale-up results, exchange best practices and focus on aspects that could be improved.
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David Osimo's picture

Europe is not great when it comes to commercializing research: that's a well known story. What is less known, and more interesting, is that today it's not just about IF, but WHEN. Especially in ICT, when innovation is fast evolving, time-to-market is one of the most important competitive advantages. We live in the times of open innovation, when research is often carried out outside companies and traded (see OECD Open Innovation report). My impression is that our research centres are not just reluctant, but slow when it comes to commercialising research. The process is too bureaucratic. And this slowness is a bottleneck to the competitive advantage of EU companies. Can we have a fast-track to technology transfer? But this is just an impression: what do other, more expert, people think?
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Gianluigi Cuccureddu's picture

Dear David, I agree, we've talked with quite the public entities that need to drive regional economic boosts, that commercial research is difficult and lacks power. Time to market but also the applicability of research in practical solutions to needs can be better.
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Paul Foley's picture

Several of the preceding comments (agility, time to market, fast-track) have been characterised by Eric Reiss and others who are advocates and observers of the 'Lean Start-up' movement. This is an approach, facilitated by online technologies, for launching businesses and products. The approach relies on validated learning, scientific experimentation, and iterative product releases to shorten product development cycles, measure progress, and gain valuable customer feedback. In this way businesses can design their products or services to meet the demands of their customer base without requiring large amounts of initial funding or expensive product launches. The term Lean 'START-UP' is unfortunate, the method applies equally to established businesses developing new products and services. With apologies for cross-posting (WS6).
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Laia Pujol's picture

How could then EC prevent that to happen in the R&D projects they are funding? Is there any rule /process that can be implemented in the new Horizon 2020 to accelerate tech transfer of research?
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Laia Pujol's picture

Thanks nmorsofi. Do you have any good example / best practice of co-creation and those new methodologies applied that have been translated into a successful product/ service in the market?
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Laia Pujol's picture

Some of your comments suggest that user-led innovation or the research better oriented to user's demand will accelerate tech transfer in Europe. However, what strikes me is that there are important/ relevant examples that suggest the opposite. For instance, Weizman Institute in Israel (http://www.weizmann.ac.il/pages/technology-transfer-0). It has unique capability to turn basic research into marketable products. It has more than 1,500 families of patents and a total budget of $344,065,484 (2011). It has established close to 170 agreements with companies for them to use the results of its research and has helped the creation of more than 40 start-up companies. When you asked for instance to the President of Weizman Institute, what is their secret of their success for tech transfer: Curiosity driven research. Science can be approached in two different ways: 1) Goal-oriented research identifies a problem or market opportunity that needs to be solved or addressed. The organization then mobilizes the talent and invests the money to develop the solution and the product or service that will fill this market opportunity. (That is what your comments suggested) 2) Curiosity-driven research relies on freedom and serendipity. Researchers investigate questions because of their instincts and curiosity say that there is something relevant in there. Many inventions did not happen to solve a need or problem that society had identified. Rather, they happen without specific outright applications. ..And I think is not an isolated example. When you discuss this with other top research institutions in EU with good tech transfer results, they suggest the importance of technology-push research. so, the answer doesn't seem clear. What do others think? Should EC incentivate in their funding programs then user-driven innovation, co-creation etc. to accelerate tech transfer or not?
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