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Technology assessment and validation, demonstration, partner search and transfer

Objective

Specific Objectives

- Management (financial and administrative) of the patent portfolio (identification, assessment and protection of new JRC technologies of potential industrial interest; maintenance and updating of JRC technology portfolio). This will be extended to the management of all Community-owned intellectual property, outsourcing relevant activities as far as appropriate;

- Identification of potential customers for JRC technologies, technology transfer to existing enterprises or through the creation of spin-off companies.
Planned Deliverables

Sub-project 80.1 (Management of Patent Portfolio)

6-8 patent clinics and workshops on intellectual property rights (general and specific issues) will be organized at the various JRC sites. The JRC portfolio will be reviewed and optimised with respect to efficiency of management, protection and potential economic return.

Quantitative targets are the filing of 10-15 patents and 5 copyrights in
2002.

The management of the Community's (mainly JRC's) IP will be transferred to the JRC together with the development of necessary in house competencies. This is expected to greatly facilitate licensing activities and streamline the process for recovery of royalties stemming from JRC's licenses. The management will be outsourced as far as appropriate.

Sub-project 80.2 (ETTI)

EntrepreneurshipTraining

It is expected that the training programme can be started in September 2002, in partnership with an experienced organisation (such as a business school). We expect 12-15 participants, resulting in up to 5 business plans.

Incubator (DG Regional Policy)

It is expected that 2-3 spin-off and 2-3 technology transfer projects can be created in 2002. A feasibility study will be completed on continuing the operation after termination of the current funding by DG REGIO.

Venture Capital

After examination of suitable mechanisms for future co-operations between the JRC and venture capital companies, a call for interest will be published.
It is expected that a contract with a seed capital management company can be concluded in 2002.

Co-operations (DG Enterprise)

In 2002, work will include the transfer of good practices from/to partners, and the application of such good practices to spin-off projects proposed by the partners. Work under the new contract (if the relevant proposal is accepted) will start by mid-2002.

Sub-project 80.3 (Innovation Project Competition)

The results of the competition in 2001 will be available in September 2002. The competition will be repeated in 2002. We expect up to 20 proposals of which 5-10 could be supported.

Budget

The budget needed for the project for 2002 is about 750,000 in specific credits
(excluding matching funds).
The IPR administration costs for the management of the Communities' IPR will be provided by the DG ENTR budget (Innovation Programme; ca. 1,000,000).

Specific deliverables to DGs:

Sub-project 80.1 (Management of Patent Portfolio)

- Manage the intellectual property owned by the Communities.

Subproject 80.2 (ETTI)

- Demonstrate good practices in technology transfer, particularly in the creation of spin-offs from public research institutions;

- Develop and implement a pilot experiment for improving or expanding the technological basis of existing innovative SMEs, particularly in less-favoured regions, and thus contribute to their competitiveness and rapid growth;

- Validate business advisory networks established in less-favoured regions;

- Contribute to the European Research Area through a network of large public research institutions dedicated to spin-off support (EXSIF project).

As a result of the project:

- Up-to-date patent portfolio;

- Licensing and co-operation agreements with existing enterprises;

- Creation of spin-off companies based on JRC technologies;

- Revenue flow from royalties and third-party work contracts back to JRC;

- Comprehensive support mechanisms for technology transfer in place ("Centre for Innovation and Spin-Offs"; entrepreneurship training action; independent seed capital fund; innovation project competititon).

Summary of deliverables made by:
- Subprojects 31/12/2001

Subproject 80.1: Management of the patent portfolio

4 patent applications were filed (first filing) and 4 software copyrights were registered by October 2001, of which one patent and two copyrights are the object of spin-off activities. One license contract and one third-party work contract (EURO 80,000) with a spin-off from the JRC have been concluded, and the spin-off was created in early 2001. Seven further license contracts and one third-party work contract are being negotiated. The license income (from three licenses) in 2001 was 40,000 EURO.

The Commission decision and logistics for the eventual transfer of the management of all Communities' IPR to JRC were prepared.

A seminar on the "open-source" model of software distribution was organized in Ispra, with the support of DG INFSO.

External specialist support was subcontracted to assist the JRC in identifying and protecting its intellectual property, and to improve and validate its current portfolio. A first "patent clinic" was held in Ispra. Another contract was signed for the raising the awareness of JRC researchers on intellectual property issues. A first general awareness IPR seminar to be delivered in 2001 is being prepared. A review of the JRC patent portfolio will be launched in 2001.

Sub-project 80.2 (ETTI)

Entrepreneurship Training

A call for tender was published for the setting up and management of the entrepreneurship training (pilots of which were run in 1999 and 2000) in 2002 to 2005. The aim is to partner the JRC with an organisation experienced in entrepreneurship training.

Incubator (DG Regional Policy)

An incubation service for all JRC institutes ("European Centre for Innovation and Spin-Offs") is being set up through co-funding with DG ENTR. Due to administrative delays, the operations, managed by an external subcontractor (European Business Innovation Centre Network) started only in mid-2001. A first priorized list of JRC technologies of potential commercial interest has been drawn up, and assessment is in progress.

Venture Capital

The first JRC spin-off with seed capital investment was created in early 2001. The company, 3d Veritas, commercialises a 3-d reconstruction technology developed in ISIS and has already taken on two employees in addition to the founders. The investment was done by IMH in the frame of a contract with the JRC for the examination and investment in JRC technologies. The creation of one further spin-off is under negotiation for a license (with the JRC) and for investment. Despite the success of the project as regards presentation of investment opportunities by the JRC and actual investments being effected, IMH was unable to raise the "Technology Transfer Fund". The contract with IMH is being closed, and other vehicles for future co-operations between the JRC and venture capital companies are being examined.

Co-operations (DG Enterprise)

This is a shared-cost action to promote the creation and rapid growth of spin-offs from public research institutions which was approved by DG Enterprise at the end of 1999 and became operational in 2000. The partners in this action (CEA and CNRS (France); DERA (UK); CERN (Switzerland); CSIC-CNM (Spain)) represent a large fraction of Europe's staff in public research institutions. Deliverables include the documentation of best practices, actual creation and internationalisation of spin-offs, and extended capabilities of the partners for the creation of spin-off companies. In 2001, the JRC attended several workshops (on management of intellectual property rights, seed capital financing). Spin-off candidates were identified and presented to partners. A follow-up proposal, with new partners from the Associated States, has been submitted.

Sub-project 80.3 (Innovation Project Competition)

There is a range of project ideas and projects at the JRC with commercial potential but without adequate sources of funding for further developing these ideas and projects to the stage where they are of commercial interest. Project competitions are a proven means to tap into pools of ideas and develop them. A pilot competition was started in 2000 and repeated in 2001. Out of the 13 proposals submitted, five were selected for funding for up to 12 months, and one market study was commissioned for another proposal. Initial results are encouraging and projects will be followed closely. Other submitted proposals are being contacted with a view to potential commercialisation.

Output Indicators and Impact

Output indicators:

- Number of formal registrations of intellectual property rights (software copyright, patents), in relation to number of researchers or budget of JRC;

- Number of active patents and copyrights (patents and copyrights being licensed);

- Number of license and associated third-party work contracts concluded, amount of revenue to JRC

- Number of venture capital investments and spin-offs created.

Impact indicators:

- Number of staff involved in innovation-related activities (entrepreneurship course; innovation project competition);

- JRC tools taken up by other organisations (transfer of good practice);

- Turn over and growth-rate of the licensee companies, as far as related to the technology being licensed from the JRC

- Successful products and services (market share);

- Contribution to solving important social problems through innovative solutions.
Summary of the project

The project covers ongoing technology assessment and validation, demonstration, partner search and transfer activities (subproject 80.1) as well as targeted projects in the frame of the European Technology Transfer Initiative
(ETTI; subproject 80.2) and through the internal Innovation Project Competition (subproject 80.3). Through ongoing activities, JRC results will be assessed to determine how best to protect intellectual property, whether exploitation is a viable option and whether additional investment is needed.
Partner search entails identifying potential markets and customers using in-house expertise, Commission networks and market studies where essential.
Technology transfer projects will be defined with interested customers via license and research contracts. Regular follow-up will provide feedback to scientists, institutes and, where applicable, interested DGs.
The transfer of the responsibilities for the management of the intellectual property portfolio of the Communities from DG ENTR to the JRC, which is expected to become effective in March 2002, represents an important organisational change. The management of the patent portfolio will be strengthened through the acquisition of specialist technical support in that field (call for tender issued in 2001) and the hiring of a legal expert in 2002.

In the frame of ETTI, focused projects aim to promote the technology transfer to existing enterprises, particularly SMEs, and the creation of spin-off companies based on JRC technologies. The measures include an entrepreneurship training programme; the operation of an independent private venture capital fund; the setting up and management of an incubation mechanism. Pilot actions run twice since 1998 will be repeated (training programme and Innovation Project Competition). After initial administrative delays, services under the ECIS (European Centre for Innovation and Spin-offs) project have started. The venture capital fund has invested in one spin-off and is examining one further opportunity. Investigation of suitable future co-operation mechanisms between the JRC and venture capital companies were started in 2001
and will be continued. The JRC is a partner in a consortium of public research institutions (EXSIF) aiming to promote the setting up and rapid internationalisation of spin-off companies. The promotion of concrete spin-off projects, started in late 2001, will be continued in 2002.

Rationale

The JRC has a number of research results, know-how and installations that have potential industrial applications. These can contribute to the competitiveness of industry whether as new products, processes and spin-off companies and can serve as examples of the validation of innovations and of innovation support mechanisms, thus supporting relevant Community policies.
Examples of successful spin off companies can also make it more attractive for high calibre researchers to join the JRC. Successful exploitation involves astute protection of the intellectual property of results, assessment of the technology's potential, identification of interested partners and a collaborative approach to transferring the technology. Technology transfer by the creation of spin-off companies entails considerable financial, market and human risks. Proper management and consultancy support to entrepreneurs may reduce these risks in the phase before they actually set up a company. The resources required for this risk reduction may be used more effectively by building up a critical mass of both competence and innovations through partnerships with other research institutions and recourse to professionals in the field (technology brokers, patent attorneys, market research consultants). In addition, such partnerships are useful for benchmarking the JRC and for anchoring the relevant activities in the European Research Area.

Funding Scheme

JRC - Joint Research Centre research

Coordinator

Directorate for Science Strategy
Address
Sq. De Meeûs 8
Brussels
Belgium