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Not all TTOs are alike: how do European TTOs differ in their approaches to supporting academic entrepreneurs?—Researchers from Radboud University and the University of London start new study to find out

“We are not administrators - we have to be entrepreneurs! We proactively work on our ecosystem, and initiate innovation.”

Tony Raven, Chief Executive, Cambridge Enterprise

Administrators or entrepreneurs? The identity of many TTOs in Europe is undergoing a major transformation and new approaches towards supporting academic entrepreneurs are emerging. Indeed, the diversity of TTO identities is likely to be far greater than the administrator vs. entrepreneur contrast may suggest. This raises several questions: What is the current spectrum of technology transfer approaches in Europe? What type of support activities for academic inventors and entrepreneurs do they entail? What explains the differences between TTO approaches? And, not unimportantly, what are the implications of different TTO approaches for technology transfer outcomes?

Traditionally, TTOs focused mainly on the administrative and formal aspects of technology transfer, such as the management of IP rights and technology licensing. However, growing governmental pressures to demonstrate the economic impact of university research has led to an expansion of TTO support activities in Europe and beyond. Today, TTOs may perform a range of new tasks—for example, market research, marketing strategy, and business development—which were previously carried out by academic inventors, entrepreneurs, and industry collaborators. While well-intentioned, the implications of this new “division of labour” in the context of university technology transfer are still unclear and merit systematic research attention.

Researchers from Radboud University and the University of London have launched a new research project to explore the questions raised above. The research team includes Rahul Prasad, Prof. Dr. Bas Hillebrand, and Dr. Paul H. Driessen from the Institute for Management Research at Radboud University, and Dr. Sven Molner from the University of London. The goals of the research are to develop a clear picture of the spectrum of TTO approaches in Europe, identify the drivers and motivations of different TTO approaches, and understand the impact on technology transfer outcomes.

The research team is now inviting TTOs across Europe to participate in the research. The researchers aim to conduct interviews (~60 minutes) with two technology transfer professionals from each participating TTO. All collected information will be treated confidentially. A management summary of the key findings will be disseminated to the participating TTOs. Furthermore, the researchers offer to present their findings in exclusive workshops for the participating TTOs.

If you wish to participate in the research, and for further information, please contact Rahul Prasad (r.prasad@fm.ru.nl).

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