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Noeleen O'Hara by Noeleen O'Hara

2022 was a remarkable a year for EU matters concerning knowledge and technology transfer. The most recent EU policies and initiatives are opening up new opportunities but also posing challenges to our profession.

ASTP is ready to support its members in a time when EU institutions acknowledge the prominent role of knowledge transfer offices as channels for knowledge valorisation but at the same time request to move away from the traditional concept of knowledge transfer and IPR management towards the wider concept of the valorisation of intellectual assets.

Digitalisation, Open Science and Open Innovation have changed the ecosystem in which universities operate and we, as professionals supporting knowledge transfer and valorisation, need to be equipped with new skills and competences.

In the recently published “Guiding principles for knowledge valorisation” we were pleased to read

There should be continued and up-scaled investment in the development of knowledge transfer and brokerage professionals and facilitators who act as intermediaries between relevant research and innovation actors

This is very much in line with the mission of our Association.

Further trends are emerging, such as the evolution of the research assessment systems in Europe to consideration knowledge valorisation and the need to “define the borders” of knowledge and technology transfer within the broader community of research managers that is actively engaged in defining a roadmap for their profession.

In the past year we have set up a group of volunteers actively working on EU matters in the Europe Committee, who work alongside a dedicated Vice President, Europe within the ASTP Board. We are committed to strengthening ASTP’s position in Europe and advocating for our profession. Synergistic collaborations have also been established with other associations representing universities and research organisations from around Europe and we are working together to a become significant stakeholder with more EU institutions.

We are launching this first newsletter with the aim of keeping you up-to-date on the most recent developments in the EU arena which may affect our daily work, but we also hope to stimulate discussions and further engage the ASTP members in EU-related matters; to build on the momentum and, together, make our voice heard at the EU level.

Very best wishes for a successful and impactful 2023!

GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR KNOWLEDGE VALORISATION

On 2 December 2022, the Council adopted the Recommendation on the guiding principles for knowledge valorisation to increase socioeconomic impact from research and innovation and align policy guidance.

The Guiding Principles will cover the entire research and innovation ecosystem and the full range of knowledge generated by EU research and innovation. They will also promote entrepreneurial approaches with a focus on the use and re-use of knowledge to increase impact. Their implementation will rely on the engagement of stakeholders and their active participation in valorisation activities.

The guiding principles address the following seven aspects: knowledge valorisation in research and innovation policy; skills and capacities; system of incentives; intellectual asset management; relevance in public funding schemes; peer learning; metrics, monitoring and evaluation.

The guiding principles will be implemented through a Code of practice on the management of intellectual assets for knowledge valorisation in the new ERA for Research and Innovation and the Code of practice on standardisation in the new ERA for Research and Innovation, both foreseen to be adopted in February 2023.

An awareness raising campaign will be launched in 2023 to support the implementation of the guiding principles on knowledge valorisation and the two new codes and ASTP has expressed its interest to contribute to it.

IP PROVISIONS OF EIC UNDER HORIZON EUROPE

On 5th December a Joint Statement was issued, signed by ASTP, AURORA, CESAER, Coimbra Group, EARTO, EULIFE, Idea League, LERU, expressing concerns about the IP provisions for EIC-funded Transition and Pathfinder projects. Granting of royalty-free access rights to EIC inventors presents several critical issues in terms of:

  • possible conflicts with institutional, regional or national rules on handling IP and sharing royalties
  • creating obstacles to the knowledge valorisation services provided by universities and possible tensions between researchers and their KTO
  • negative side effects on the efforts done by universities to maximise the exploitation of their research outcomes.

An overall side effect could be that organisations are discouraged to participate in EIC projects.

The European Commission amended the EIC IP rules in the EIC Work Programme 2023 (https://eic.ec.europa.eu/eic-2023-work-programme_en) where it is stated that EIC beneficiaries have the possibility to suspend the access rights to EIC inventors if they consider that the exploitation activity by inventors could negatively affect their own exploitation activities. This is still sub-optimal and does not solve the issue and ASTP, together with the other partner organisations, will continue to engage in discussions with the EC in order to find a more appropriate solution and possibly to have the EIC implement the same IP provisions as in the rest of Horizon Europe.

We encourage our members to share their experience in managing IP in Pathfinder and Transition project so that we can present evidence-based information to the European Commission (please refer to our EU/KT consultant Alessandra Baccigotti – alessandra.baccigotti@unibo.it

ASTP-EU FORUM

On 29th November the fourth successful ASTP-EU Forum took place, when Ioannis Sagias, Deputy Head of Unit for Valorisation Policies and IPR at the European Commission updated the European KT community on the state of play on EU knowledge valorisation policies. The event, which was attended by 70+ participants, involved several ASTP members who had participated to the Community of Practice which, in the preceding months, supported the EC in the preparation of the new Code of Practice for the Smart use of Intellectual Assets. During the work in the various sub-groups of the Community, relevant topics for KT/TT were discussed such as: intellectual assets management, IP skills and training, IP valuation, joint industry-academia collaboration, IP and Open Science, IP and Open Innovation.

If you would like to know more, ASTP plans to organise further training and events on the above mentioned topics, upon release of the new Code of practice

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

New Horizon Europe Work Programmes have been recently published here  ASTP is interested and available to join consortia to be set up in response to the above mentioned calls. If your university is participating to one of these calls and are interested in involving ASTP, please reach out to ASTP Chief Executive, Laura.macdonald@astp4kt.eu

Several funding opportunities of interest for knowledge and technology transfer have been identified:

  • HORIZON-WIDERA-2023-ACCESS-03-01: European Excellence Initiative, including Training and capacity building for research and innovation management including IPR (deadline 12.4.2023)
  • HORIZON-WIDERA-2023-ACCESS-05-01: Dissemination and Exploitation Support Facility, focuses on activities to strengthen or build D&E capacities in Widening countries. The consortium should establish a facility including training, upskilling, entrepreneurship, access to capital, best practice sharing, knowledge exchange and community of practice building for beneficiaries of the Widening countries (deadline 12.4.2023)
    • HORIZON-WIDERA-2024-ERA-01-06: European Excellence Initiative: Acceleration services in support of universities. Training and capacity building for research and innovation management including IPR (deadline 12.3.2024)
    • HORIZON-WIDERA-2024-ERA-01-07: Capacity building on Intellectual Property (IP) management to support open science. How IP management enables and boosts open science and how both open science and IP management are complementary in achieving a better dissemination and valorisation of knowledge (deadline 12.3.2024)
      • HORIZON-CL4-2023-HUMAN-01-32: Piloting communities of expert facilitators to improve industry-academia-public sector co-creation (deadline 29.3.2023)
      • HORIZON-EIE-2024-CONNECT-02-01: Expanding Academia-Enterprise Collaborations (deadline 19.9.2024)

      KT SOFT SKILLS

      A new European project involving ASTP kicked-off on 1st December 2022.“KTSoftSkills”, a project funded by “Erasmus+ - E+ KA2: Cooperation partnerships in Higher Education”., coordinated by the University of Bologna, Italy and involving ASTP as a partner, together with other European organisations including also our fellow Italian KT Association, Netval.

      The purpose of the project is to improve the impact of KT activities within and outside HEIs by:

      • increasing KT professionals’ soft skills
      • systematizing the set of soft skills (e.g., negotiation, conflict resolution, alliance formation capabilities) that KT professionals need
      • making KT more effective, inclusive and impactful
      • providing homogeneous materials and tools for training KT professionals across Europe.

      The project is definitely relevant for ASTP members as we all know how important soft skills are for the KT/TT profession! We look forward to benefiting from the results that will be delivered by KTSoftSkills, namely: an Investigation Report, a Self-Assessment Framework, a Training Programme and Toolkit. Regular news will be shared via our newsletter so that all of our members can follow the progress of the project and be engaged in the interviews and focus groups that are planned over the next couple of years.

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