There are few richer breeding grounds for technological advancement and innovation than from within Universities. The traditional publish or perish dogma still rings loudly in any academic institution’s ears, however there is another approach to turning innovative research and creative design into more than academic reading. For the sake of simplicity we refer to this field as technology transfer, it is the practise of identifying novel innovations which have commercial potential and setting up the process of developing the innovation to its full commercial potential. This literally translates in taking an idea from lab to market, from a light bulb moment during a case study to starting a business that will offer a service, from finding a better way to produce a product to revolutionising industry processes, from recognising a chemical compound to developing a new drug. This means that protectable intellectual property (IP) emanating from the University becomes a commodity. How that IP is managed and developed can heavily influence the commercial success of the innovation and has immense implications for the sustainability of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and for broader social and economic impact.
In South Africa, as with most countries internationally, HEIs are publicly funded which ultimately means that Government owns the IP. However, this is only the start of the journey, the University Technology Transfer Office (TTO) essentially acts as the custodian of the IP and whose chief responsibility is protecting the IP, developing the innovation and getting it to market.
The main activities of the Rhodes University TTO include:
Identifying Novel IP emanating from the University with Commercial Potential
Developing the best strategy for protecting the IP
Developing the best strategy for maturing the technology, this development process to get the technology market ready is referred to as commercialisation
Facilitating funding for tech development
Growing Spin-Off companies
Engendering a culture of entrepreneurship and supporting University Start-Ups
Engaging the Local and Regional Ecosystem, especially to identify and build relationships with Industry partners as well as working with funders, government and community partners
Who owns the IP
Last Modified: Tue, 08 May 2018 14:14:28 SAST