Knowledge Share: Where innovation happens
Netval, UIBM, Politecnico di Torino
Jan 30 | 6 minutes read
In today’s knowledge-based world, universities play an increasingly pivotal role in the process of innovation.
This is why the past two decades have seen a significant uptick in university-business activity around the globe, and the emergence of structured mechanisms to aid the process of commercialising university research.
This mechanism is known as technology transfer.
Universities generally conduct early-stage, blue-skies research so often what they produce are many years away from finding their place in a commercial product. For the most part, university academics don’t mind this – theirs is the pursuit of curiosity, knowledge and academic kudos, not commercial gain.
But if developed further, many of the technologies they build can be turned into practical, real-world applications – if they could only find a commercial partner willing to invest in it. And many would – in a fast-paced digital world, companies are always on the hunt for the next cutting-edge idea that would help them gain an edge in a crowded marketplace.
Technology transfer is the process that brings both parties together to help these pursuits of curiosity find their cachet in a commercial world. Distilled to its essence, technology transfer is what keeps the wheels of innovation turning.
This makes its successful execution of critical importance to both established businesses and young start-ups. It is also necessary for the progress of mankind – to spur profits, employment, regional development, national competitiveness and overall economic growth.
Recognising this, one public university in Italy has built a platform to facilitate technology transfer and bridge the gap between academia and industry: Politecnico di Torino.
Knowledge Share: Italy’s IP marketplace
Knowledge Share is a joint project involving Politecnico di Torino, the Italian Patent and Trademark Office at the Economic Development Ministry and Netval, the Italian Network of Technology Transfer Offices of Universities and Public Research Organisations.
Knowledge Share is able to develop a standard that can potentially overcome the constraints related to the lack of communication between university and industry. This platform simultaneously provides an opportunity for all research centres and universities to foster their technologies across regional barriers that would not have been otherwise possible.
Universities and researches have traditionally been held back by communication barriers. The lack of sound business communication strategies has failed to highlight the value proposition in their technology. To overcome these constraints, Knowledge Share has developed a standard for the technologies, the “marketing annex” that gathers all the main information of a potential stakeholder in simple and easy-to-understand language.
Launched in July 2019, it is a “meeting point” for companies, a platform that gives them visibility of the latest and most innovative patented technologies filed by the country’s universities and research centers.
The platform’s objectives are fivefold, namely:
- To create a national standard to foster the exploitation of intellectual property;
- To become the touchpoint between corporations, SMEs and public research;
- To create an innovation network for technological excellence at an international level;
- To provide a service for technology transfer offices (market intelligence); and
- To promote events and initiatives related to innovation and the exploitation of research.
Knowledge Share enables the technology transfer process by helping organisations find new technologies they may want to develop and then connecting them with its owners.
As a result, universities and research bodies will get the opportunity to license their technologies to interested industrial partners, allowing their discoveries to progress into commercial products and services.
As Italy’s oldest and most prestigious technical university, Politecnico di Torino understands that effectively communicating research to industry is a necessary prerequisite to the successful commercialisation of university research.
This, in turn, is critical to fulfilling higher education’s “third mission”, which is to ensure that the knowledge and learning that take place within a university are translated into real-world applications that contribute to society.
Knowledge Share started as Politecnico di Torino’s initiative achieve this mission and now, thanks to its project partners, it has reached a national audience. In just a year, it has become the main platform to foster tech transfer events. It hosts patented technologies from more than 60 universities, research centers, and hospitals in Italy. The platform currently hosts more than 1000 uploaded patents.
How Knowledge Share works
Access to Knowledge Share is open to Italian and foreign SMEs looking for new technologies and research discoveries to be translated into practical applications.
Universities are eligible for a free account, which they can use to manage and promote their patent portfolio to prospective industrial partners. The content they upload on the marketplace will be put through a stringent review process by the Knowledge Share team, who will ensure patent descriptors follow the “total quality” platform’s communication standards.
Upon subscribing to the platform, users will receive individual logins giving them full access to the patent portfolios of all subscribed universities and research bodies. Users can then navigate the platform and search for the inventions that best meet their interest or need by filtering them according to “Owner” or “Technology Sector”.
A simple yet critical feature of Knowledge Share is that all information on the patents and technologies use language that is clear, easy to understand and free of patent-speak. This means that whether owner, founder, investor, scientist, engineer or academic researcher, anyone with access can very easily sift through the patent portfolios to identify technologies of interest.
Another nifty feature of Knowledge Share is the “marketing annex”, a document that summarises the advantages and possible applications of the patent, offering users an overview of how it can go beyond the limit of the technology itself and the current solutions available on the market. This analysis is critical to helping users understand in greater detail what the patent could do for their business and whether or not it fits within their innovation needs.
Once the user identifies and selects the technology or technologies they are interested in, the platform allows them to download a “summary sheet” and request for a contact from the related university or research body.
The university or research body will directly receive this request through Knowledge Share. The platform guarantees a 100% response rate within a 48-hours timeframe.
To aid the process, a dedicated service team is assigned to facilitate the interaction. The team will follow up on the request for contact, making sure a dialogue ensues between user and patent owner.
The team also helps guide the conversation to its conclusion; ie. if the interaction leads to a collaboration between the two parties, licensing, or a partnership to further develop the technology involved.
Knowledge Share: Where innovation happens
Any founder or policymaker would agree that innovation is the lifeblood of every growing business and economy today.
It was how Apple went from nearly imploding in 1996 to becoming the planet’s most valuable company two decades later. Subsequently, it was innovation that helped Alphabet/Google and Amazon unseat the tech juggernaut’s 13-year dominance on Boston Consulting Group’s world’s most innovative companies rankings last year.
What differentiates these business behemoths from many others in their space is that innovation, or rather, the culture of innovation, has been woven into their very DNA.
Like it or lump it, this is the reality of doing business today. An organisation’s capacity to innovate has become intrinsically tied to its growth and progress, which means if you run a business today, you must keep on innovating if you want to succeed.
But this isn’t a journey you need to walk alone. To get access to the latest technologies and the best ideas, just connect with the world’s greatest sources of knowledge and learning: universities.
And if you’re looking for the most cutting-edge and innovative discoveries of the Italian IP marketplace, then sign up for an account on Knowledge Share, your one-stop-center for innovation.
To learn more about Knowledge Share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org