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Academic Spin-Offs and Technology Transfer in Europe

Academic Spin-Offs and Technology Transfer in Europe

Best Practices and Breakthrough Models

Edited by Sven H. De Cleyn and Gunter Festel

While the US has traditionally been successful in commercialising new technologies, Europe is confronted with an increasing dependency for fast developing technologies like biotechnology or ICT, despite having some of the best universities in the world. This book will explore the key attributes of commercialising academic knowledge, focusing on spin-offs. Bringing together the visions and best practices used by leading academics and professionals across Europe, the editors provide new and practical insights on the topic in an attempt to resolve the European paradox.

Introduction: what is the current state of knowledge transfer at research institutions in Europe, what are the main challenges and why does it matter?

Sven H. De Cleyn and Gunter Festel

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, knowledge management, innovation and technology, innovation policy, knowledge management, technology and ict


Research institutions, including universities and others, have engaged in knowledge transfer outside their boundaries for centuries, mostly through education and scientific publications. In recent decades, they have tried to find other, more direct ways to bring new knowledge to business and society, often facilitated by a technology transfer office (TTO) or industrial liaison office (ILO). As such, research organizations have been increasingly engaging in more entrepreneurship-related activities: establishing spin-off ventures, setting up investment funds, etc. This additional role has been described as the third mission of research institutions alongside research and education (Etzkowitz, 1998). However, TTOs most commonly adopt a technology-push or inside-out approach, where new knowledge is ‘pushed’ from the research institution towards third parties. Common methods applied in this regard include the sale of intellectual property (IP), licensing or creating spin-off ventures to commercialize new technologies. This technology-push approach imposes specific challenges and many research institutions struggle to derive sufficient benefits from their knowledge transfer activities, both in the shortas well as the long term.