Technology transfer is the process by which basic science research and fundamental discoveries are developed into practical and commercially relevant applications and products. The magnitude stems from the fact that a research result may attract interest but only if there is any practical purpose or use, that patents may be granted and in order to implement that some one not necessarily the researcher must come up. At this juncture the bondage between the research institution and the private business functionaries gathers immense importance.
Technology transfer activities generally include processing and evaluating invention disclosures, filing for patents, technology marketing, licensing, protecting intellectual property arising from research activity and assisting in creating new businesses and promoting the success. The result of these activities will be new products, more high-quality jobs, and an expanded economy. It is usually the technology transfer personnel who evaluate and manage invention portfolios, oversee patent prosecution, negotiate licensing agreements and periodically review cooperative research agreements already in place. Part of the technology transfer process even involves the prosecution of patents.
Commercialization is one of the effective methods of transferring technologies and commercial success depends largely on five factors:
- Technical Development: The time, materials, and personnel needed to reduce the technology to practice and protect rights to the resulting product
- Regulatory Clearance: The testing needed to demonstrate the product's utility and safety, and to meet federal regulatory requirements and to minimize or manage associated risks
- Manufacturing Requirements: The facilities, people, and equipment needed to make the product
- Market Development: The plan for successful marketing of the product, created by assessing perceived need for the product, size of potential market, expected sales, advantages over competing products, and the cost of promoting the product, and
- Financial Feasibility: The development costs, costs to produce, operating expenses in relation to sales potential, net profits, potential liabilities, and return on investment.
Technology Transfer in India
After independence, India witnessed much public research conducted in the fields of health care, military power and agriculture. But there was no focus on technology transfer at that point of time. The focus shifted to technology transfer only in the late 1991 when the economic sector was opened up. Access to global technologies and accelerated licensing in several sectors like engineering, chemicals, life sciences, committed the nation to realize the scope and need of technology transfer. This eventually led to bridge the gap in public and private sector. Though the country still lacks full consonance, a paradigm shift was reflective since the decision of globalisation.
Presently, the country has emerged as frontline economic power and the projected hub of technology in the filed of information technology and pharmaceutics. India has joined the global consortium with significant funding and long-term commitment owing mainly to many joint venture investments. India has a vast network of publically owned research and development facilities. It is to be noted that various laboratories under the CSIR produce world-class research in technology areas. It is critical that the technology developed by these institutions is commercialized and reap the benefits.
But in truth, these institution and Government taped very limited economic benefit from technology transfer. In US the initiatives provided through Bayh-Dole Act had served as the catalyst for the technology transfer. The Bayh –Dole Act provides impetus to the University licensing offices to start up companies to commercialise early stage inventions. The transfer of patent ownership to the research partner out side the government sparked a technology transfer boom in the early 1980s in US. The Act fostered a new era of relation ship between the government and universities.
Undoubtedly, technology transfer rests upon strong foundation of university-industry research partnership. The government has got a vital role in the promoting technology transfer by removing the legal barriers, opening up the private sector investment in research etc and can do wonders in boosting economic structure of the country. It has been reported that certain Universities in India are actively perusing technology transfer (eg: IIT, Delhi, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Science, CSIR etc) and it is high time that the government understand the potential of the universities and develop an interactive relationship with academia with a view to enhance technological capabilities for competitive advantage. It seems that finally the importance of technology transfer is felt and a positive step towards it is mirrored as the ISRO has announced in aiding public private sectors with transfer of technology.
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