Knowledge Mobilization & Technology Transfer – Chapter 3: KM as an emerging paradigm for university-industry engagement (and a shout out to Bea Arthur)
No, I haven’t forgotten. On October 2, 2008 I posted chapter 2 in the series KM & TT (read it here) and now, better late than never, Chapter 3. I have previously written about how KM and TT are different but there is a common ground where TT officers and knowledge brokers might find they have something in common.
As part of my preparation for this post I tweeted the following on July 31:
1. Simplified: knowledge mobilization is an iterative 2 way socialized exchange that fosters collaboration between researchers and community
2. Simplified: technology transfer is a 1 way push of university research to industrial licensee(s)
3. If knowledge mobilization is analogous to dating then tech transfer is analogous to what? Suggestions please…
There are many names by which university Tech Transfer Offices (TTO) are known but among them is the name “”University Industry Liaison Office” (UILO). In a brief phone survey of colleagues in Canadian TTO/UILO I inquired about the balance between tech transfer (the push of patents to licensees) and industry liaison (the brokering of research based relationships between university and industry). The balance was overwhelmingly on the business of patents and licensing and much less on the active brokering of research collaborations, which is surprising when you look at the stats. In 2006 research contracts attracted $286,667,000 for Canadian university research compared to $59,689,000 received for commercialization of IP (Statistics Canada). However these relationships generate more than just money. University industry collaborations are eligible for matching programs from NSERC, CIHR and OCE and provide great training opportunities for graduate students. They also contribute to the university’s reputation. Furthermore, university-industry engagement doesn’t need to start with IP for science & technology companies. Companies that derive their inputs from social sciences and humanities (management, law, finance, cultural and heritage industries) account for $696 billion of annual GDP output for Canada exceeding by half the GDP output driven by firms associated with science, technology, engineering and medicine ($431 billion)(http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/site/about-crsh/publications/impacts_e.pdf). Universities can support the broader innovation system by engaging their fine arts departments, business schools, law schools, computer science departments and service learning units with local business and support business and process solutions as well as technology and product opportunities. But with this opportunity comes a responsibility to invest in and develop an institutional capacity for knowledge brokering (KM and industry liaison) as they currently do for technology transfer.
As Larry Huston (who led Procter & Gambles P&G Connect Develop) said, “What we’re talking about is moving from inventing to connecting” (http://terrydata.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/innovation-through-villaging/) which is what KM is all about. With its focus on brokering research based relationships through connecting not inventing, KM is an emerging paradigm for university-industry engagement across the broader innovation system.
By the way, in response to my tweeted question, @luisemarie weighed in suggesting that if KM is dating then tech transfer is a forced marriage. I suggested that if the IP is owned by the institution this is likely correct but if the IP is inventor owned perhaps it is more like an arranged marriage.
Let’s send our faculty out on more research dates and support more of these research marriages. Bea Arthur played Yente the Matchmaker in the premiere of Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway in 1964. Let’s hire more Bea Arthurs for research and as the song says:
♫“Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match…”♫