Knowledge Mobilization and Technology Transfer– chapter 1

Every public research institution in the country has a technology transfer (TT) office or is a member in a technology commercialization network that provides services (commercialization, due diligence, patenting, licensing and company creation) to researchers seeking to connect their research with the private sector to bring new products and services to the benefit of consumers. Knowledge mobilization is a novel service being offered by York and UVic to researchers seeking to connect their research to research users so that academic research can inform decisions about public policy and professional practice. KM is often referred to as a service analogous to technology transfer. While there may be analogies the two services are sufficiently different to warrant critical separation of the two concepts. In a series of brief blog postings, ResearchImpact will differentiate the services offered by technology transfer and knowledge mobilization.
Let’s start with the similarities- KM and TT managers both act as brokers between research/researchers and research users. The audiences may differ (TT speaks primarily to the private sector and KM to the public and voluntary sectors) but the role of brokering relationships between the academy and non-academic audiences is similar. The TT and the KM manager seek “receptors” for academic research (in part) through a producer push methodology [see John Lavis, Suzanne Ross, Christopher McLeod and Alina Gildner (2003) Measuring the impact of health research: assessment and accountability in the health sector. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy 8(3): 165–170] and seek to forge sustainable relationships between researchers and research users; however, the form of these relationships and the means to sustain them differ.
Furthermore, locating TT and KM within research projects or research units (i.e. TT only for the life sciences or KM only for immigration and settlement) fails to maximize the economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts of academic research. KM and TT need to be developed at the institutional level.
Stay tuned to this blog for more musings about TT and KM.