Best Practices and Breakthrough Models
Edited by Sven H. De Cleyn and Gunter Festel
Some important hurdles hamper the commercialization of scientific knowledge in Europe. They include the well-known technology transfer gap between academic research at universities or research institutions and industrial application. This gap between academic research and the commercialization of new knowledge can be addressed by spin-off ventures, which translate new knowledge and technologies into market relevant applications. Spin-offs are usually more flexible and faster in doing this than established companies, given their lean structure and absence of any prior track record. They are an important mechanism to address customer needs and bring new products and services to the market. In this regard, they have been demonstrated to foster the development of regional clusters and accelerate the economic growth of a region, as several contributions in this book confirm. Against this backdrop, universities are increasingly recognizing the importance of start-ups. Since many academic researchers neither have the knowledge nor the experience (or ambition) to commercialize their academic research results, universities and other public research organizations are steadily setting up a variety of support mechanisms to facilitate technology transfer, such as technology transfer offices (TTOs), investment funds, incubator facilities and coaching. Most TTOs recognize spin-offs as an interesting method of technology transfer and seek to support scientists in their entrepreneurial efforts. However, Europe has traditionally performed poorly in translating new (academic) knowledge into economic and social value, despite its broader scientific base when compared to, for instance, the US. This phenomenon has become known as the European Innovation Paradox, because until now Europe has failed to convert this advantage into a strong contribution to economic development and innovation. This is attributed to the more competitive and flexible American academic environment and legislative system.
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