We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
JRC mobilises its expertise and network of experts, practitioners and stakeholders to support developments in three broad inter-connected domains of technology transfer activities:
For technology transfer to happen successfully, synergies in these three domains need to be identified and exploited.
The technical assistance provided to national and regional authorities has the following objectives:
The support takes the form of conferences and thematic workshops, analysis and studies, as well as joint initiatives like co-coordination of activities or networks.
In this respect, JRC works along with other leading partnering organisations, including inter alia the European Investment Bank, the EU Intellectual Property Office and the ASTP technology transfer network.
Regional authorities have a strong role to play in Research and Innovation at regional and national level.
Technology transfer is one of the main processes in which innovation is created as it epitomises the transformation of research into a marketable product ('from lab to market').
In the perspective of the future Horizon Europe programme, the role of technology transfer will be key for supporting the creation of an innovation-friendly environment that makes it easier for great ideas to be turned into novel products and services.
Technology transfer is of significant relevance to current EU challenges, policy areas and programmes.
It reinforces and adds operational depth to Smart Specialisation strategies, informs policy around new programmes (e.g. Horizon Europe) and other instruments for research and innovation, as well as supports cohesion policy.
The structure and incentive systems of research centres and universities are also impacted by technology transfer activities and by the process of commercialising research results.
Operational support activities are normally targeted and implemented on a case-by-case basis with specific institutions, such as science parks, accelerators or clusters, managed or supported by national or regional authorities.
The support action typically starts with a diagnostic phase, identifying the specific problem or goal that a region/country might face in the context of technology transfer.
This is then followed by a phase focused on the design of possible solutions or remedial strategies, which might include advice on policy creation, resource utilisation or restructuring. Such solutions can then be accompanied by capacity building support to facilitate implementation.
The three core domains, in which JRC is able to offer such targeted expertise, are:
Technology transfer capacity building refers to supporting the development of the necessary technical competences, human capital and skills needed to successfully convey technologies from the research stage to the market place and/or to broader society.
JRC supports the conceptualisation and implementation of such activities by mobilising local, regional, international stakeholders, as well as external consultants and expert practitioners.
One of the main components – and main challenges – of technology transfer is its financing. From the viewpoint of traditional risk finance, the technology transfer segment is in a very early stage and its associated potential investment targets are considered to be very risky.
Savvy public sector intervention is required to counter this market failure and to enable the development of adequate policy, which relies on profound understanding of the intricacies of technology transfer.
JRC offers its expertise to those EU regions that are keen on developing dedicated technology transfer financial instruments, including not only equity and debt but also grants schemes, innovation vouchers schemes and other vehicles for financing risky early stage innovation projects.
Upon request of Managing authorities, JRC also provides policy and operational support for the structuring and management of science and technology parks, universities and Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs), incubators and accelerators to stimulate technology transfer for the benefit of regional economic development.
Research infrastructures and testbeds are also essential components of technology transfer ecosystems. The main challenge is to increase their accessibility, particularly for researchers and SMEs.
JRC also makes knowledge, best practices and manual practices available on its website and other forum, such as the Technology Transfer Offices (TTO) Circle which is a network of the technology transfer offices of Europe's largest public research organisations.
Over the last few years, JRC has created and animated an extended Community of Practice formed of practitioners, experts and stakeholders in the Technology Transfer sector across Europe.
This community of citizens and practitioners is centred around two networks, namely the Danube Innovation Partnership and the above-mentioned TTO Circle.
It also brings together a number of partner institutions and a network of practitioners from Europe and beyond.
The TTO Circle is the JRC's closest and most significant interface with the technology transfer Community of Practice in Europe.
The members of the TTO Circle are crucial players in supporting the policymaking cycle at national and European level, including for example, support to Innovfin Technology Transfer.