Connecting the Technology Transfer Offices of large European public research organisations
The EU needs more innovation to boost its global competitiveness, harness its knowledge base, enhance its economic position and tackle the grand societal challenges of the 21st century. For these reasons, innovation has been placed at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs. The Innovation Union flagship initiative stresses the importance of developing mechanisms to strengthen knowledge transfer offices in public research organisations, in particular through trans-national collaboration (Commitment 21). Article 181 of the Treaty encourages the Commission to take any useful initiative to promote coordination with the Member States aiming at i.a. establishing guidelines and indicators, exchanging best practices and promoting monitoring and evaluation.
European technology transfer today shows similarities with an emerging industry: many valuable product ideas; a highly fragmented landscape; a lack of critical mass; wide disparities in terms of performances and developing practices. It is anticipated that the next decade will see profound changes in this landscape. Studies have identified the lack of scale as one of the major issues of technology transfer. Given these huge challenges, a necessary step is to bring together the major European public research organisations so they can play a role in collectively driving changes to this landscape. A main emphasis would be on job creation by supporting the uptake of new technologies in particular by SMEs.
In line with the Innovation Union flagship initiative and with the challenges that Europe is facing in mind, the European TTO CIRCLE network was established with the aim to bring together the major European public research organisations in order to play a collective role in driving changes to the Technology Transfer landscape in Europe. The European TTO CIRCLE partner organisations are leading European public research organisations (PROs) whose prime mission is to perform research. They have agreed to join forces on Technology Transfer to boost innovation in Europe through a set of initiatives, including: fostering the use of their knowledge portfolio; sharing best practices, knowledge and expertise; performing joint activities; establishing informal channels of communication with policymakers; organising training programmes; and developing a common approach towards international standards for the professionalisation of Technology Transfer.
At present the network comprises the following member organisations (25 in total): CEA, INRIA (France); CNR, ENEA (Italy); Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Association, Max Planck Society (Germany); IMEC (Belgium); NERC representing the Research Councils UK (UK); RISE (Sweden); SINTEF (Norway); TECNALIA, CIEMAT (Spain); TNO (The Netherlands); VTT (Finland); CERN, ESA, ESRF, JRC, ILL (International), ETH Board (Switzerland); TUBITAK (Turkey); Yeda R&D representing the Weizmann Institute (Israel); DTI (Denmark); Teagasc (Ireland). The JRC of the European Commission will coordinate the TTO CIRCLE and provide its secretariat. In addition, European associations such as EARTO, ASTP, and Proton are invited to contribute to the activities of the Network.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the partners to formalise their collaboration.
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