The Effect of Technological Nature on the Dutch University Technology Transfer Process
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The phenomenon of technology transfer in general and technology transfer from universities have been widely studied by scholars. However, it was not yet studied how the nature of the transferred technology could affect the technology transfer process from universities, through technology transfer offices, to society. The aim of this research paper was therefore, to identify the effect that technological nature could have on the technology transfer process from universities through TTO’s to society. In order to investigate this issue a typology of technology had to be chosen. The typology that is used within this research is discrete technologies vs. complex technologies. This typology is chosen, since the typology discrete versus complex technologies is developed for patent analysis, to make a distinction between technologies. Patents also play a role in the transfer of technologies, since the patent(s) needs to be transferred for the use of the technology. By using this theoretical viewpoint it can be seen if technological nature has an effect on the technology transfer process. In order to investigate this issue, several TTO’s in the Netherlands were contacted for interviews. Four TTO’s were interviewed. The TTO’s were situated in Amsterdam, Leiden, Rotterdam and Utrecht. The results that came forth out of the interviews showed that there is little to no difference in the technology transfer between different natures of technology. There are some slight nuances, but the general outlay of the process remains the same. According to the results the nature of technology did not hold any significant effect on the process of technology transfer for the TTO’s in the Netherlands. This could also be related to organizational characteristics, since the TTO’s stated that most of the TTO’s do not have that much personnel, most of the TTO’s are not that old and that they do not have the resources to work with every technology that comes in. Therefore, these characteristics could help understand why the process is more or less streamlined and not focused on different technological natures. In order to see, if these characteristics do play a role in the organization off the process, more research will be needed. What is maybe more interesting is the fact that the theoretical typology that is used within this research paper is not that suited to be translated to a practical setting. From a theoretical viewpoint this typology can be used because it only entails patents and how they are used in doing business with these kind of technologies. But when translating it to a practical example, like the transfer of technology through TTO’s, it becomes clear that the typology falls short, since there is more to the transfer and the decisions that have to be made than the patents alone. The subsequent development of the technologies plays a big role in the negotiations for the transfer of the technology. A more suitable typology is therefore, product vs. platform technologies. This technology is more in line with the examples that were given by the interviewed TTO’s and this typology also revolves more around the development of technologies.