Review of R&D Management Literature Concerned with

Technology Transfer Between Government Laboratories and Industry

Prepared by

Thomas E. Clarke, M.Sc., M.B.A.

(Updated with the financial assistance of the

Intellectual Property Policy Directorate, Industry Canada)


Executive Summary of Literature Review

This summary is based on an extensive review of the R&D management literature dealing with government to industry technology transfer. Common threads or themes associated with successful technology transfer were identified. Some of these are organizational factors, and others are practices or actions taken by the government laboratory to enhance transfer. The full literature review also outlines some of the major barriers to successful technology transfer; these are not covered in this executive summary.

This is an attempt to pull these positive threads together in some coherent fashion. The different factors or practices identified may be more critical at different stages of the technology transfer process, and are not mutually exclusive. Studies indicate that the major reasons companies approach federal laboratories is to gain access to the skills and knowledge of the their scientists, engineers, and to unique expertise or facilities. The studies further indicate that firms are looking for longer term assistance rather than immediate commercial benefits, however, most of these studies are American and the size of firms studied are relatively large. Small firms would most likely be more interested in near-term commercial benefits from their interaction with government laboratories.

Factors Associated with Successful Technology Transfer

The following factors were reported as having been associated with the more successful technology transfer activities: F1 - high level of support for technology transfer activities in both the originating and adopting organization; F2 - middle management support in both organizations;

Practices or Actions Associated with Successful Technology Transfer

The following practices have been categorized in terms of general organizational practices, prospecting/marketing practices, and developing/adopting practices. Organizational Practices

Developing/Adopting the Technology

A major factor/action reported in most, if not all of the articles reviewed, is the importance and efficiency of person-to-person contact during technology/knowledge transfer. i.e. between the inventor and the technical staff of the adopting firm.

This emphasis on person-to-person interaction has been summed up by many people by the expression:

"Technology Transfer is a Body Contact Sport!"

 

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