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Technology Transfer and the European Research Area: past, present and future contributions from the EIROforum Organisations

Final Report Summary - TT-ERA-EIRO (Technology Transfer and the European Research Area: past, present and future contributions from the EIROforum Organisations)

The seven intergovernmental organisations (CERN, EFDA, EMBL, ESA, ESO, ESRF, ILL) involved in EIROforum have extensive expertise in the areas of basic research and the management of large, international infrastructures, facilities and research programmes. They play an important role in the European Research Area.

Technology and knowledge transfer are an integral part of the activities of the seven organisations, though at different levels. EIROforum organised a two-days conference on technology transfer activities in November 2009 at the EMBL conference facilities in Heidelberg (Germany). The conference title was: 'Technology transfer and the European Research Area: past, present and future contributions from the EIROforum organisations'. The conference was supported by the European Commission through the Grant Agreement No 218286, 'TT-ERA-EIRO'.

The elaboration of the conference programme was the result of a sustained and coordinated effort from the members of the EIROforum technology transfer task Force.

The first part of the programme included a general presentation of the goals of EIROforum by its chair, an introduction to the European Research Area as well as individual presentations of the respective involvement in technology and knowledge transfer by each EIROforum organisation. This first part, helping to introduce the audience to the context, was followed by three working sessions dedicated to 'Setting up effective collaborations and partnerships', 'IP management: from policy drafting to implementation' and 'Technology transfer infrastructure and tools'.

The second day started with a well attended and lively 'Networking breakfast'. It was followed by sessions on 'Financing technology transfer - Bridging the gap', the presentation of a practical case, 'ELARA: of mice and men' - a young biotech start-up.

The afternoon started with an extensive introduction to 'The Commission recommendation on the management of intellectual property in knowledge transfer activities and code of practice for universities and other public research organisations' (COM(2008)1329) followed by a panel discussion on the 'European knowledge-based economy'.

Before closing the conference a conclusion session in presence of the EIROforum DGs allowed to summarise on topics addressed during the conference and present the findings on four main topics: the European Commission's recommendations, a general view on technology transfer, technology transfer set up and the status of the EIROforum members building up technology transfer structures.

The conference helped to provide a platform for the delegates to explore new approaches for managing a successful and more effective research marketing and technology transfer by exchange of good practices, new ideas and sharing of experience. The conference format clearly helped to generate a discussion forum allowing the audience to debate about new avenues for successful translation of research into economically viable benefits that should boost the economy for Europe and its citizens.

The hundred participants to the meeting were all actors at the European level in science & engineering, technology transfer, venture capital, industry, intellectual property and policy development. Technology transfer, including IPR, the general topic of the meeting, is a highly strategic issue for the future success of the European Research Area. From a European perspective, intellectual property rights and technology transfer still remain complex matters to deal with.

The conference definitely showed that a stronger understanding and networking of the different communities involved is more than essential. The meeting on these issues was an excellent way to lower the thresholds and possibly remove some historical barriers between those communities who have not always had the level of communication and the relationship that is found for example in the US.