Knowledge transfer in general is the flowback of knowledge and discoveries to the general public.
At a university, knowledge transfer typically occurs through publications, science communication events, educated students finding a job, exchanges at conferences, and soon. Valorization can be done through partnerships with industry and/or society, different kinds of research collaborations, licensing, the creation of spin-off companies and consulting services. The process of technology and knowledge transfer starts with observations and experiments leading to discoveries and inventions.
An invention is any useful process, machine, composition of matter, or any improvement of the same. Often multiple researchers may contribute to the invention. Inventions form the basis of new products and processes. By transferring these research results to society and industry, the university plays an essential role in the development of society.
Research results are typically transferred through an agreement in which the university grants a license to a third party to use or further develop these results into a commercial product or service. Of course your research results should be different from existing products or any documented ideas. Your research results should offer the potential to provide clear technical or commercial advantages that existing products or other ideas do not offer.
Last but not least these advantages should have the potential to be strongly protectable by law. Inventions can be protected by applying for a patent or another form of intellectual property (IP), such as design rights and trademarks. Without strong IP protection few companies or investors will be interested to engage into a licensing agreement.
However, knowledge transfer doesn’t necessarily imply a technological output product or service. It can also refer to a qualitative partnership between applied research and society in various ways. Depending on the target group, the Science Communication unit of the Research & Data Management department offers educational projects for youngsters, knowledge debates for the wider audience or research projects assigned by civil society organizations.
Need to know more? Download the full version of VUB TechTransfer's "Knowledge, innovation and technology transfer issues. Finding your way through the jungle".