About Technology Transfer & Technology Validation Projects
1. Innovation is a key element perhaps the key element in the ability of European enterprises to compete in world markets. Enterprises and companies that do not innovate will not succeed in today’s global market.
The needs for innovation has been recognised at a national and Community level and, to support this need DG XIII’s "Innovation Programme" as part of the 3rd activity of the 4th Community framework programme provides specific actions and activities to help European industry become more competitive by making the most of available and emerging innovations, technologies and techniques.
A major action within the Innovation programme is the support for Innovation Projects (Technology Validation and Technology Transfer). Support to these types of project builds on successful and fruitful action lines in previous DG XIII programmes.
The overall aim of the Innovation Projects action line is to support a wide range of projects dealing with the many facets of the innovation process. Support for these projects is not limited to any particular technological sector but all projects do involve a transnational process with partners from several countries working together as a team to implement real innovation in enterprises.
2. Improving the research/innovation interface
Innovation Projects do not deal with research and development activities but many of them do have as their basis technologies emerging from completed research activities (around 50% of projects came from funded Commission RTD actions). Projects can therefore be seen as a natural progression from completed research towards first use or the exploitation of the existing scientific base of companies, universities and research centres.
3. The market for innovation
An increasingly important aspect of innovation is its market potential. Innovation Projects are encouraged to involve technologies and innovations that demonstrate clear potential for widespread use in Europe.
4. The benefits to Europe
Important policy goals for Innovation projects are, improving the competitiveness of European industry by fostering trans-sectoral transfer, and the utilisation of technology in all areas (including low technology based sectors). Projects can also contribute to other Community policies such as employment, environmental and social cohesion etc.
Proven technologies adapted and transferred from more advanced regions helps to close the technology gap of industries with those in the less-developed regions. Similarly, the transfer of generic technologies from industries with a strong technological base, to more traditional industries is an important factor in improving their efficiency and innovative capacity.
5. The demand for innovation
For innovation to be successful it must meet the demand of users, the market and society. For this reason there is an emphasis in Innovation Projects on demand orientation with users actively involved in the implementation. Enterprises and particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) often have difficulties to realise innovations and technologies that may exist and would answer their particular needs but which they cannot identify or access. Through their participation in trans-national partnerships with wider expertise enterprises can gain access to innovations and technological solutions from other sources.
SMEs represent more than 90% of all the enterprise in Europe and as such the impact of innovation on their competitiveness can have a significant global effect. Another factor is the rise in the number of NTBFs (New Technology Based Firms) and their capacity to create employment through innovation.
6. A partnership for change
Innovation Projects always involve a transnational partnership with different types of partners all having a particular role to play. The aim being to stimulate knowledge transfer between different types of entity. Projects can involve users of the technology, such as large companies, SMEs, public and private utilities together with providers of technology such as universities, research centres, linked through existing support structures, like, for example, regional and local bodies, trade associations, Relay centres, venture capitalists and technology brokers. The focus is on an integrated and active partnership working together to fulfil the overall goal of the project.
7. Protecting innovation
There is a rapidly growing importance attached to IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) and all the policies and methods for protecting new technologies and innovations. Particularly for SMEs and NTBFs the problems associated with IPR can be a difficult and complex. Recent Innovation Projects have had the benefit of support in this area through an action known as QUICK SCAN. QUICK SCAN provides projects with a report containing a novelty search through the European Patent office of their particular technology highlighting, for example, whether some form of patent protection is needed.