In times of economic hardship, policy makers have sky highexpectations of university incubators, or Technology TransferOffices (TTO), but practical experience shows that the mereexistence of a TTO on the university premises, doesn’t necessarilygenerate hundreds of viable spin-offs every year.
Professor Koen Debackere (executive director of KU LeuvenResearch & Development) wrote a
In the first part the paper Debackere focusses on the role andrelevance of the TTO in academia. It presents a model of threestage development, from TTOs as isolated islands of technologytransfer activity within the university (stage 1) to an inclusiveTTO operation operating across the research, teaching andinnovation dimensions of the knowledge triangle (stage 3).
In a second part of the paper the governance and organization ofthe TTO are analyzed. Governance aspects such as autonomy arecrucial for the TTO to develop its activities successfully.Debackere describes the cooperation as a ‘triple helix’: “we neednot just transactions between organizations, but innovationsjointly driven by organizations.”
Secret of success
Finally ten critical success factors (CSF) for an effective TTOoperation are identified. They focus on the degree of autonomy ofthe TTO from the university and the mandate a TTO might need tooperate in its region to build an effective spin-out operation, butalso on the need for a supportive external environment.
Other success factors set out the incentives and code of conductschemes TTOs can install for the academic community and giverecommendations for TTO staff, the internal organization of theoffice and the position of the TTO in the university.
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