Full citation

Tommaso, M.R. & Ramaciotti, L. (2010). Academic Knowledge Transfer to Industry. Italy: Spin-off Practices and Policies. International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management, 11(5), 409-427.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Fundamental

Annotation: The authors review Italy’s progress in university-industry knowledge/technology transfer, with special emphasis on university spinoff companies. Government and university policies and academic practices that either support or impede the success of spinoffs are discussed. National spinoff statistics are provided for 2000 to 2008. Regional and sectoral spinoff data are presented for 2009.

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Federal lab, Government, University

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Brokers, Researchers

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary Findings

Tips:

  • One of the policies or practices a university should consider when embarking on the establishment of a spinoff company with industry to effect knowledge/technology transfer is to ensure the university’s involvement does not represent any conflict-of-interest with its mission or mandate, or any violation of non-competition regulations.
    Literature review.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 2.3, Step 4.4
  • One of the policies or practices a university should consider when embarking on the establishment of a spinoff company with industry to effect knowledge/technology transfer is to ensure that academic and administrative staff involvement will not violate contract or regulatory law.
    Literature review.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 2.3, Step 4.4
  • One of the policies or practices a university should consider when embarking on the establishment of a spinoff company with industry to effect knowledge/technology transfer is to ensure that the university receives a free and perpetual license to use products or services developed by the spinoff.
    Literature review.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 2.3, Step 4.4
  • One of the policies or practices a university should consider when embarking on the establishment of a spinoff company with industry to effect knowledge/technology transfer is to clearly establish criteria regarding responsibilities associated with spinoff losses or debt.
    Literature review.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 1.3, Tip 2.3, Step 4.4
  • One of the policies or practices a university should consider when embarking on the establishment of a spinoff company with industry to effect knowledge/technology transfer is to clarify intellectual property ownership and distribution of profits.
    Literature review.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 3.8, Step 4.4
  • One of the policies or practices a university should consider when embarking on the establishment of a spinoff company with industry to effect knowledge/technology transfer is to require participation of the university in the valuation of the spinoff.
    Literature review.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 2.3, Step 4.4
  • Universities (and their involvement in generating, co-producing and transferring knowledge) play an important role in a country’s ability to maintain strong innovation capacity.
    Literature review.
  • One of the policies or practices a university should consider when embarking on the establishment of a spinoff company with industry to effect knowledge/technology transfer is the strict definition of the boundaries of the spinoff, its funding sources, and participants.
    Literature review.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 1.3, Step 1.5
  • To stimulate academic responsibility for, and involvement in commercially-oriented knowledge/technology transfer, universities may need to adjust their incentive and reward systems in ways that enable identifying, tracking and evaluating commercially-oriented knowledge/technology transfer activities. New and complimentary practices and tools (and associate training) would need to be made available to academics.
    Literature review.
  • One of the policies or practices a university should consider when embarking on the establishment of a spinoff company with industry to effect knowledge/technology transfer is to set clear and legally-binding criteria that regulate the use of university logos and trademarks.
    Literature review.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.4

Secondary Findings

Tips:

  • Academic involvement in creating new ventures (e.g., spinoff companies) may be driven by entrepreneurially-oriented objectives. Alternatively, involvement may be driven purely by academically-orient objectives, with no direct interest in the business aspects of the venture. It is important to understand what drives the academic and to resource the venture accordingly. Academic motivation may also define how intellectual property is appropriated (e.g., patent, spin off, licensing, open, etc.) and how knowledge/technology are transferred. Some of the factors that complement academic involvement in new ventures include a history of frequent interaction with external companies, prior joint experience, prior education in economic and management topics, and prior technical work experience. (Colombo [1995, 2004, 2005]; Ramaciotti [2006]; Fini [2009]; Grandi [2005])
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 1.4
  • Establishing a knowledge/technology network across universities can facilitate the development of common knowledge/technology transfer standards, training and practices; simplify and expanded industry access to expertise; accrue benefits from economies of scale; share common resources and expenditures; and provide unified representation on national and international bodies. (Netval [2009a, 2009b])
  • University knowledge/technology transfer policies and roles can influence academic involvement in the creation of new ventures (e.g., spinoff companies). Availability of a university-based technology transfer office, establishment of a science park and ties to business incubators are some of the ways universities can positively influence academic involvement. Availability of supplementary commercial knowledge and resources is crucial. (Netval [2009a]; Nosella [2009]; Colombo [2002, 2004]; Grimaldi [2005].)