Hoping it can help Europe to conquer the economic crisis and to secure Europe’s future position in the global economy, EU policy makers clearly aim for innovation. On different occasions the League of European Research Universities (LERU) has emphasized the particular role universities play in the innovation process. Crucial for that role are the universities’ technology transfer offices, whose functioning is investigated in LERU’s new advice paper The TTO, a university engine transforming science in innovation.
In a first part the paper focusses on the role and relevance of the TTO in academia. It presents a model of three stage development, from TTOs as isolated islands of technology transfer activity within the university (stage 1) to an inclusive TTO operation operating across the research, teaching and innovation dimensions of the knowledge triangle (stage 3). “It is clear”, says Koen Debackere, Executive Director of KU Leuven Research & Development and author of the paper, “that strong and unambiguous university leadership support is critical to the continuous growth and development of a professional TTO operation.”
In a second part of the paper the governance and organisation of the TTO are analysed. Governance aspects such as autonomy are crucial for the TTO to develop its activities successfully. Finally ten critical success factors (CSF) for an effective TTO operation are identified. They focus on the degree of autonomy of the TTO from the university and the mandate a TTO might need to operate in its region to build an effective spin-out operation, but also on the need for a supportive external environment. Other CSFs set out the incentives and code of conduct schemes TTOs can install for the academic community and give recommendations for TTO staff, the internal organisation of the office and the position of the TTO in the university.
The League of European Research Universities (LERU) is as an association of leading research-intensive universities that share the values of high-quality teaching within an environment of internationally competitive research.