EU Science Hub

Supporting Technology Transfer

Type of support / service available

JRC mobilises its expertise and network of experts, practitioners and stakeholders to support developments in three broad inter-connected domains of technology transfer activities:

  • operational capacity;
  • financing; and
  • innovation ecosystem design.

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:

  • To provide expertise on technology transfer to countries and regional authorities;
  • To provide technology transfer relevant evidence and related expert services across the innovation cycle in conjunction with EU policies;
  • To deepen local and regional competences in understanding technology transfer processes by exploiting the results of successful projects funded by EU programmes (e.g. H2020, COSME, etc.).

The support takes the form of conferences and thematic workshops, analysis and studies,[1] 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.[2]

Relevance for regional authorities

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,[3] 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.

Policy context

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.

How to use

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

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. 

  • Financial Instruments

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.  

  • Innovation Ecosystem Design

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.[4]

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[5] which is a network of the technology transfer offices of Europe's largest public research organisations.

Community of Practice

The TTO Circle is the JRC's closest and most significant interface with the technology transfer Community of Practice in Europe.
©European Union, 2019

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[6] 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.[7]

Impact  

  • Improved technology transfer ecosystem and networks across Europe.
  • Increased harmonisation between South-East Europe and the rest of the EU in technology transfer capacities and knowledge.
  • Better informed policymaking on intellectual property and technology transfer across Europe.