DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER MECHANISM AND EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
IN THE FRAMEWORKS OF EU TEMPUS PROJECT


Vadim KORABLEVa, Dmitry PIOTROVSKYa and Katrin LARSENb

e-mail: dmitry@dap.spb.su

aCentre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship,
St.Petersburg State Technical University,
ul. Polytechnicheskaya 29, 195251, St.Petersburg, Russia

bTSM Business School, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217 7500 AE Enschede,
The Netherlands


Abstract. This paper presents the activities planned in our JEP TEMPUS "University industry liason" project, currently under development in St.Petersburg State Technical University. Our partners in this project are TSM (Technology, Science, Management) Business School, University of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands, and Groupe ESC (Graduated Business School) Grenoble, France. The project was a result of 3-years of closed cooperation between this three institutions, aimed to establishing a direct closed links between Russian university and European industrial companies / applied research organisations. The project has actually started in February '95, but due to a number of reasons it has a rather slow start, therefore, for the moment it is too early to report any results, but only and aims to be acomplished and working plans how to reach them.





1. PRESENTATION OF PARTNERS

St.Petersburg State Technical University - Russian partner of the consortium is one of the largest technological education and research centres in Russia. Now in the University there are 14 500 students and graduate students and 6 000 lecturers and scientific workers only in its main site in St.Petersnurg. Among that, the University has its branches in some smaller Russian industrial cities, such as Pskov, Orsk and Cheboksary. The University provides a world level higher education in different areas of technical science varying from hydraulic engineering to solid state physics. Among its educational activities, the University is also one of the largest Russian scientific Institutions in both fundamental and applied research. The scientific investigations are

conducted in the University's faculties itself and also in more than 40 different research institutes, centres and laboratories, associated with the University. After the beginig of broad international contacts in 1989-1991, aquiring of modern Western methods of management of technology and conducting of various internationalprojects, have been considered as two main priority areas in the field of international cooperation.

TSM Business School, a Dutch partner in the consortium is a cooperative venture of the Universities of Twente, Groningen, Eindchoven and Tilburg. Groupe ESC Grenoble, a French partner in the consortium was espesially created as a Business School having technological orientation. These two organisations are among the leading institutions in the area of technology management in the Netherlands and France respectively. The strategy of these Business Schools is to put a particular stress on management of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. Both Schools believe that these areas are of utmost importance in succesfully identifying and exploiting new business opportunities. The School believes that most of these opportunities and challenges arise as result of technological developments.

Specialists of this European institutions were quite willing to share their knowledge and experience and to check the applicability of their Western approaches to the conditions of Russian technological society. So, the fit of interests among the partners became clear from the very early stage, and the most efforts have been concentrated in the field of technology management and technology transfer education education for SPbSTU scientists and university managers.


2. NEED IN DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER MECHHANISM IN RUSSIA

Today in Russia there is no special mechanism for conduction of the cooperation between universities and industrial companies, or in a broader sense, between science and industry in a new economic situation. Old approaches to this cooperation are now completely irrelevant, as both science and industry has changed very much. However,newer approaches to it has not been developed yet. Furthermore, there is no global awareness or it least practical models for such activity as well as competente professionals able to conduct it. Therefore, use of Western knowledge and experiences could be very relevant to solve all this problems.

The cooperation of SPbSTU / TSM / ESCG consortium has been developed as an integrated complex of measures aimed to assist R&D managers and scientists of SPbSTU and associated institutions to manage successfully the implementation processes of their technologies in both Russian and Western industrial enterprises. It is widely known that fundamental technical capabilities of former Soviet science as a whole were, and still remain, on quite a high level. However, the technology transfer for industrial product- and procesinnovation, never was an area of Russian strength. In our opinion, the main reasons for that can be explained by emphasizing the point that the process of technology transfer is ultimately not a technical science but a managerial one.

The Russian technical universities are facing a situation in which they are constantly losing personal and financial recources. This has a major impact on the quality of the education and the fundamental and applied research. In a broader extend it also has a negative impact on the Russian entreprises, because the technnicaal universities are currently unable to offer major support to those product- and process innovations which are necessary to catch up with their Western competitors [1]. At this moment this support is lacking because the demand of industry often does not correlate with the scientific results.

Although the research does not fit the demand from entreprisess, the technological know-how is at this moment the main valuable asset of the technical universities in Russia. To escape from the current decline in budgets and capabilities it is necessary to exploit and strengthen this asset. This requires a transformation towards a market-focus instead of a science-focus orientation. The later agrument shows, that technology transfer is currently the most needed form of university-industry cooperation, as it deals with the marketing of already available research results [2], and does not need special requests from industry.

To use this technological know-how assets into practice, is often a great problem as the links with industry often are missing, and the demand of industry often does not correlate directly with the scientific results. Moreover, the scientists are not oriented towards the translation of results into applied technologies for the benefit of industry to create a cooperation with industry is essential for technical universities to obtain financial support to expand the research capasities just to fulfill the needs of industry. This expansion of research will give new input into scientific development and to improve the educational programmes of the universities.

Russian scientists, even more than their Western colleges, often tend to have their research internally oriented, with a concentration on the technical side of the subjects and give only a minor eye to the final completion of the results of their efforts in a commercial innovation. Marketing and sales of the research is clearly the weakest point of the whole scientific process. To bridge the gap between technology and management in both people's minds and typical managerial practices used is the main purpose of the whole program.

As it is widely known, technology transfer is relatively new development in technology management. It is a result of industrial revolution of mid 70'th (before that time there was no technology transfer, only applied research). At that time, first time in human history, there was an excess of technological achievements, which was created as "useless side products" of military, nuclear and space research. Western World was harvesting the results of 40 years steady scientific development initiated by World War II. About 1975 most Western goverments have stopped a substantial part of their scientific programs (nuclear, space etc.). It became clear that world had already had much more technologies than people need and there is no established mechanism to transfer them from research labs to industry and real life.

Current situation in former Soviet Union and particularly in Russia is very similar to European situation of middle and later 70'th. Heavy Russian military scientific complex is overwelmed with already achieved or near to be achieved scientific results which stayed out of real life because there is no clear ways, proper skills and educated people to transfer them.

During last twenty years, Western Europe have accumulated the broad experience of successful technology transfer interactions between scientific research on one hand and industrial and other business companies on the other hand. Starting a marketing office in scientific research centre was a revolutionary new idea for Western Europe fifteen to twenty years ago, however now it is becoming more usual for most of Western research institutes.

The general aims of our JEP project are:

To accomplish these aims the consortium has created the Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE), which is a part of St.Petersburg State Technical University, however, it operates under substantial influense of West European institutions. The centre is specialised in managing and consultancy of university industry liaison, and especcially in the technology transfer from the university to industry. Within SPbSTU this centre is responsible for the conduction of JEP TEMPUS project.


3. CONTETS OF JEP TEMPUS PROJECT

As it was stated above the project is dedicated to development of university-industry linkage mechanisms. Therefore, it is includes research and analitical work related to technology transfer and spread of this knowledge within the university. According to the restricitions of European Training Foundation actual technology transfer operations are conducted as practical models and examples.

The project includes six basic work packages.

3.1. Rewiev and audit of structures and methodologies used in univesrsity- industry cooperation

The first step of the project is the analitical research of existing procedures for technology transfer and implementation of research results. This includes the following subjects:

Screening of all university structural units involved in this operations, analyses of their professional level and formal and informal influense. Analyses of the cooperation between this units and scientific departments.

Analysis of the existing awareness about the importance and mechanisms of university industry liason within the university scientific community.

Screening of different mechanisms of university-industry cooperation used in practice, such as contract research, selling of pattents, marketing of research results, consultancy provided by the university specialists. Analyses of technology transfer categories used depending on the class of partners and technological area.

Analyses of main obstacles in technology transfer operations.

Analyses which kinds of training and consultancy in technology transfer are possible for the scientists. As the final result of this audit we expect to have a structured organised assessment of the current liaison activities between the university and industry at all levels: top administration, faculty, department and laboratory.

3.2. Creation of database on available technologies

At the moment, the assessment of the results are made mostly on scientific criteries, which is obvious as far as scientists assess scientists. This is not a special feature of this University or Russia as a country, but a general problem of technology transfer in many research centres. In most cases, that the data available on research results and available technologies do not fit the standards expected by Western and Russian companies, and even of the technology brokers in Europe.

The preliminary work performed on the pre-JEP stage led to initial selection of a rather high number of projects. In addition to that an international expert team will compare the scientific level of SPbSTU with the existing world level in different technological areas. This step is rather important as it makes a clear positioning of different university departments in the world scientific community. However, this step also creates certain difficluties, as foreigners are not allowed to have a full picture of the scientific results in all the areas. To solve this, this job is performed by mixed Russian-European team, in which European experts works with the results of the first information screening performed by Russian specialists.

All the projects selected will be presented in the standard used by European technology brokers, which includes the presentation of scientific level, publications, assessment of market potential, protection of rights, comparison with existing substitutes, etc.

Contents of the database to be build has three levels:

A short general description of the project. This information is public, and given as a first description to the potential partners in order to generate interest.

If the interest is shown, then the Confidential (non-disclosure) agreement has to be signed up. After it the detailed functional specifications are given to partners as a part of the whole technology transfer procedure.

With the development of the partnerships a third part will be made, which will contain all the know-how, experience, results of the work performed and in progress. This part will have a highly restricted and protected access.

We expect the database to grow gradually, having at the end of first year (December 1996) about 150 projects on the level 1. After one year we expect the number of projects on level 1 to grow till 200-250, when about 20 projects will be upgraded till level 2. During the third year the database of level 1 projects will be maintained on the level of 250 projects, some more projects will be upgraded till level 2, and as a part of technology transfer processes with different companies a few projects will be upgraded to level 3.

3.3. Learning by doing technology transfer

Considering the very complicated nature of technology transfer operations in Russian context, luck of systematic research on the subject, and availability of highly educated scientific professionals, which are able and willing to be involved in pilot projects it is suggested to conduct a training by doing of technology transfer practical operations.

For this purpose four technology projects will be selected including three low-risk projects with a high probability of success and one high-risk project, with a relatively high financial yield if its succeedss. The carrying out of these pilot studies serve four goals:

  1. Most important is that they are learning by doing activities for Russian technology transfer managers and scientific specialists, who currently, besides theoretical knowledge, often lack experience in science based intercultural international operations.
  2. This projects will also serve as a means to check the applicability of the methods used and adjust ways of project planning and scheduling, financial management and project organisation to Russian cultural and economic conditions. The resulting models and processes should serve as a guidelines for a future similar activities.
  3. The pilot projects should be used to achieve positive results. This will be used as a case and example to stinmulate the market-orientation of the scientific community.
  4. The funds generated by the pilot studies will also provide CITE with an extended working capital for future activities.

It is expected, that during first year four pilot projects with certain interest from industrial side will be selected. At the end of the second year first four pilot studies should be finished, and 10-20 other projects should have obtained a formal show of interest from industrial partners (non-disclosure agreement and level two of the database).

3.4. Educational and awareness programs for SPbSTU specialists

The educational part of the program is aimed at the University managers involved in university-industry liaison with both local and foreign industrial companies. It is very important to involve in the program high and medium level managers, as they are important opinion leaders within the whole scientific community. Also, the program will be targeted to leaders of research groups and managersof different research departments and laboratories to make them aware about marketing of scientific research and other forms of university-industry cooperation.

The educational program is expected to be arranged in the form of scientific and practical seminars and workshops, which are considered to be the most appropriate form of education for the specialists of this level. Such seminars will be hold both in St.Petersburg and in Western Europe.

Two first awareness seminar "Marketing of scientific research and technology transfer" has been already conducted in St.Petersburg. Two next seminars are planed to be conducted in the Netherlands in June and August '96. In total, 6-8 more seminars are planed to be conducted during coming 3 years. After a few awareness seminars, we plan to hold some specialised seminars on the following subjects:

Legal affairs related to the intelectual property rights. Pattents and pattent applications.

Venture capital and other sources of technology funding.

Start-up and spin-off companies.

Information sources for university-industry liaison.

3.5. Training for consultancy and liaison management

The aim of this activity is to set-up within SPbSTU an operational liaison office able to offer various related services and consultancy activities. It is planned, than SPbSTU will select 3-5 potential trainees, which will receive a specially designed consultancy / management training course in the Netherlands. After this period an operational plan for the execution of specilised consulting services will be developed and actual consulting activity will start. On the initial stage this activity will be performed under extensive coaching of professional European consultants. At this stage Russian consultants will also get a consultancy experience and collect all relevant

information on local conditions, Russian legislation system, available funding sources, etc. On the next stage, the Russian consultants will get a new training course on management of university-industry cooperation. This course will include such subjects as managemet of technology, new business development, management of cooperations, human resource management and recruitment, management of technology transfer, cooperation with funding sources and raising of venture capital, high tech marketing, management of university spin-off companies, etc.

After finishing of this course the trainees will be able to develop, start and expand the consulting services on technology transfer and other forms of university-industry cooperaton for the university laboratories and spin-off companies.

3.6. Setting up a university-industry management club

An international experience shows, that a process of univeristy industry cooperation, although highly benefitial for both parties is very complex. It needs an attitude of respect, tolerance and open-mindeness from both sides. The setting up a club where university research managers and industry executives can meet, discuss, compare and learn about new management tools, methods and attitudes has proven to be highly efficient for a better cooperation between these two worlds. At present, there is a number of such clubs in Europe. Among the most successful of them there is an Insitute of Technology Management (TIME) which is run by one of the partners of our consortium ESC Grenoble together with some other Universitites and management schools in UK, Italy and Switherland.

Setting up of such club in SPbSTU is sheduled for the second and third years of our JEP contract. We expect to develop the contacts, objectives, mode of operation and potential participants during the next year, basing on the experiences of TIME operations in Grenoble. The main parts of the club sessions will deal with manager's awareness of possibilities of university-industry cooperation possibilities (including the purchase of knowledge through contract research and technologytransfer modes). The first session of the club is scheduled for the end of the second year.


4. CONCLUSION: CITE AS AN INDEPENDENT TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER OFFICE

At the end of the 3-years contract CITE should become a professional operational / consultancy unit, working within the Technical University. It will concentrate its efforts on the subject of technology transfer / spread of knowledge from the university to industry, as this subject is the most needed by the university researches (see part 2 ofthis paper).

A large number of University research managers will become aware of technology transfer possibilities. Many of them will also get some initial training on the subject. Among that CITE and the university will posses an experience of solid cooperation with a number of European technology managemt schools and technology brokers, a large network of such institutions in Europe, a staff of trained consultants and a professional database of technologies available for transfer.

This will support the implementation of technology transfer operations on all its four stages [2]: detection of useful technology, feasibility study, setting a transfer strategy and arranging of TT contract. At this time, CITE will operate as an independent technology transfer office, cooperating with its European partners on the equal basis.


REFERENCES

[1] D. Mowery, The changing structure of US industrial research: implications for R&D organisation in the Russian Federation. Int.J. of Technology Management 205716 (1994) 547-563.

[2] M. Stor , Technology transfer: A manageable process? The development of a TT management tool,, in Proceedings of 2nd Conference of Technology Transfer Practice in Europe, Munich, Germany, (1994) 111-130.


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