Knowledge Transfer Centres and Exploitation of IPR

Background
The EU Strategy Europe 2020, the Austrian National Reform Programme to implement the European Strategy and the RTI Strategy of the Austrian government all stress the importance of knowledge and technology transfer and the need to make greater use of the scientific research base.
The Austrian government has set itself the goal of positioning

Austria in the group of Innovation Leaders. A wide range of measures to achieve this goal have therefore been defined in the RTI Strategy. These include, for example,

  • increasing cooperation between science and business,
  • promoting the formation of knowledge-intensive, technology-based start-ups,
  • and strengthening entrepreneurship at universities and at university spin-offs.

New BMWFW Funding Programme Knowledge Transfer Centres and Exploitation of IPR
The new programme Knowledge Transfer and IPR Exploitation was launched by the BMWFW to strengthen cooperation between science and business and to promote entrepreneurship at Austrian universities. The programme has a funding volume of approximately € 20 million and is designed to enhance the ties between basic research, application-orientated research and industry. Responsibility for managing the project rests with Austria Wirtschaftsservice GesmbH (aws).

Three regional knowledge transfer centres (East, South and West) as well as a thematic knowledge transfer centre for the life sciences at Austrian universities were established to provide more attractive incentives for universities and public-sector research institutions to intensify the transfer of knowledge from science to industry and society. By strengthening cooperation and coordination and developing a set of coordinated profiles and priorities, the knowledge transfer centres create ideal conditions for efficiently and successfully transferring research results into industry and society and further developing key networks. A special funding measure was put in place for collaborative projects in the humanities, social and cultural sciences.

Programme Aims
The new funding programme in three modules was established by the BMWFW to further improve cooperation between universities with one another and with non-university research institutions and companies (Module 1), to boost strategic patent funding (Module 2) and to facilitate the translation of scientific knowledge into commercial practice and thus to accelerate the exploitation of university inventions by providing funding for prototypes (Module 3).

If the programme receives a positive evaluation, it is planned to include key parts of the programme in the performance agreements for 2019-2012.

Module 1: Knowledge Transfer Centres

As part of Module 1, technology transfer co-ordinators will be appointed at the universities to act as contact persons for universities, non-university research institutes and for companies. They should be able to provide an overview of all current research projects and should also appraise them to identify their commercial potential.

Inter-university projects should help professionalise the management of intellectual property and increase the likelihood that it can be exploited for commercial purposes. This will give business and industry improved and faster access to research results, enabling these to be implemented more efficiently.

Within the framework of the knowledge transfer centres, the universities will also be able to take part in subsidised collaborative projects with non-university research institutes - such as the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft (LBG), the universities of applied sciences, IST Austria, the Christian Doppler Gesellschaft (CDG), the AplusB centres, federal museums and special institutions with a research focus in the humanities, social and cultural sciences. The institutions referred to above are eligible for funding if they have a partnership with a university.

Module 1a: Regional Knowledge Transfer Centres

In line with the key tenets of the Austrian University Plan, there are three regional knowledge transfer centres (East, South and West), which were set up by the universities on the basis of consortium agreements. The special measure to fund collaborative projects in the humanities, social and cultural sciences and the arts should once again underline how important these disciplines are for the transfer of knowledge in and for society.

Start: August 2014

Funding volume:
€ 500,000 per centre and year, 
€ 150,000 in addition per centre and year for the humanities, social and cultural sciences and the arts

Regional Knowledge Transfer West
Consortium coordinator: University of Innsbruck
Consortium partners: The Medical University of Innsbruck, University of Salzburg, Mozarteum University Salzburg, University of Linz, University of Arts and Industrial Design Linz.

Regional Knowledge Transfer Centre South
Consortium coordinator: Graz University of Technology
Consortium partners: University of Leoben, Medical University of Graz, University of Graz, University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, University of Klagenfurt

Regional Knowledge Transfer Centre East
Consortium coordinator: Medical University of Vienna
Consortium partners: Vienna University of Technology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, University of Vienna, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, University of Applied Arts Vienna.

In the first round of calls, a total of 16 collaborative projects were recommended for funding by an international evaluation committee and approved by the BMWFW.

Project Examples:

Physical Science (Knowledge Transfer Centre West)   

  • Development of a concept for and implementation of an instrument to enable the centre’s three locations to transfer their scientific and artistic innovations in a professional manner and giving special consideration to the specifics of the field of physical science. 
  • Planning and implementation of so-called innovation laboratories/living labs so that inventions can be brought to the market and society more swiftly.
  • Scientists from a wide range of disciplines such as engineering, the arts and business are brought together to identify new fields of application and find creative ways of making greater commercial use of university expertise (e.g. by presenting prototypes or through innovation and creativity workshops).

Measures in the Fields of Arts-Based Research / Humanities, Social and Cultural Sciences (Knowledge Transfer Centre South) 

  • Transdisciplinary Competence Network End of Life: Build up a research and competence network on the “end of life” to initiate research that addresses joint questions and to create an Austrian platform on “end of life” issues.
  • Activities to exploit the results of research in the humanities, social and cultural sciences and the arts.

IP meets IT (Knowledge Transfer Centre East)

  • Acquisition of uniform IT equipment for the technology transfer officer (IP management software and research software). 
  • Comprehensive and focused training for IP managers 
  • Ongoing maintenance of the software that has been purchased

Module 1b: Thematic Knowledge Transfer Centre

The Thematic Knowledge Transfer Centre for Life Sciences was established to build up a complete Austria-wide infrastructure and competence network for the development of drugs. The intention is to cover each stage of the value creation chain for early preclinical drug and diagnostics development, each of which is to be carried out in accordance with international quality standards. The centre should serve as the central point of contact for research institutes and young companies on all questions relating to clinical tests with the aim of providing decent framework conditions for transferring academic research into drugs and diagnostics development. It provides, for example, coordinated information about free capacities at laboratories. In this field in particular, any time that can be saved increases the likelihood of exploitation.

Start: August 2014

Funding volume: € 500,000 per year,

Project Examples:

IP Scouting and Exploitation

  • Development of strategies for screening and scouting for promising development projects
  • Creation of an incentive system for researchers
  • Definition of uniform criteria for the evaluation of development projects in terms of scientific quality, intellectual property rights and commercial potential.

Development of Biologicals

  • Survey of existing infrastructure at universities, research institutes and companies  
  • Positioning in an international environment on the basis of best practice examples  
  • Definition of development processes according to industry standards  
  • Definition of legal and financial framework conditions as well as quality criteria for development projects

Module 2: Patent Funding

An additional patent promotion scheme should offer universities additional incentives to strategically develop those patents in particular, which boast high potential for exploitation or where successful commercial exploitation can be expected. Funding is awarded to measures to support the obtaining of industrial property rights in connection with priority patent application and successive patent applications (costs for obtaining the patent, national and international registration fees, etc.)

Start: December 2013

Funding volume: € 1,000,000 per year

Module 3: New Prototype Funding

In this module, newly patented or patentable basic research output from universities or which was developed in cooperation with defined research institutes will be selected by a panel of experts. The projects with the highest likelihood of exploitation will receive funding to produce a prototype. The prerequisite is demand from small and medium-sized enterprises.

Start: December 2013

Funding volume: € 1,000,000 per year

Project Examples:

  • In a collaborative project the Vienna University of Technology and the Danube University Krems developed an innovative sensor in the area of physics and nano-technology.
  • The improved performance of a microscopy system is expected to produce positive effects in the life sciences.
  • Gaseous mixtures and bio-gases are processed better and more efficiently for new areas of application such as biofuel using a new chemical method
  • New properties in tower construction are expected to lead to improvement in construction technology

Contact

Modules 1a+2:
BMBWF, Abteilung V/1, Mag. Daniela Kopriva-Urbas: daniela.kopriva-urbas@bmbwf.gv.at  

Modules 1a+3:
BMDW, Abteilung C1/11, Mag. Sabine Matzinger: post.c111@bmdw.gv.at

Module 1b:
BMDW, Abteilung C1/9, DI Peter Schintlmeister: post.c19@bmdw.gv.at