Technology transfer and research commercialisation

17.3 As discussed in Chapter 11, there are a number of routes to end use for research results. One of these is research commercialisation, where research outputs are developed by industry to product stage for supply to the public. Often this development occurs after new research results have been transferred out of research organisations and into industry. This is one aspect of ‘technology transfer’.

17.4 Technology transfer is the process of moving new technology from one person or organisation to another to enable sharing of resources or to facilitate further development and commercialisation. This may include transfers of materials, information or the details of new technologies.

17.5 Technology transfer is also sometimes referred to as ‘utilisation’ of research so as to include the transfer of research outputs to other researchers and organisations for further development that is not specifically aimed at producing a marketable product.[2] In this chapter, technology transfer refers to the subset of transfers within the broad term ‘utilisation’ that are directed at eventual transfer to industry for development into products.

17.6 Technology transfer is important because basic research is only the first stage in the development of genetic tests and therapies that will eventually have healthcare benefits for the community. Moving from invention to product requires considerable investment to fund further research into the medical applications of the technology; to undertake validation research and clinical trials; and to develop and produce a marketable test or therapy. The cost of this developmental phase will usually be high and require specialised skills and facilities.

17.7 Most research organisations lack the financial capacity and skill base to undertake the developmental phase. It is generally considered that the industry sector is better placed to take on this role to ensure the community receives the benefits of genetic research.

17.8 It is Australian Government policy for research organisations to work with industry to commercialise the products of their research.[3] This policy is based on the view that patenting by research organisations and licensing of technologies to the private sector will increase the rate of commercial application of knowledge.[4]

[2] Department of Education Science and Training, Review of Closer Collaboration between Universities and Major Publicly Funded Research Agencies (2004), 29. Utilisation is discussed further in Ch 11.

[3] See Ch 11.

[4] Commonwealth of Australia, Backing Australia’s Ability: An Innovation Action Plan for the Future (2001), 18.