There are three pillars of university activity: teaching, research and technology transfer. Of these, the third is probably the least known and generally the least valued and least promoted by public bodies and the university structure itself. The aim of collaboration between universities, companies and institutions via contractual agreements is to bring together the knowledge and innovation capacity of university research groups and the production sector, and use this for the benefit of society.
In a globalized, highly competitive world, the capacity of the business and service sector to constantly adapt to technological innovation is essential to ensure both growth and survival. In this context, collaboration of business and social agents with technological universities is vital. On the one hand, research groups provide the knowledge and skills in leading research areas that are needed to guide and successfully support strategies of change. On the other hand, the business world can convert research results of commercial or social interest into products that are accessible to the public.
Technology transfer has many advantages for universities. It contributes to financing the most applied research in Catalonia – funding that has become essential to reduce the public research budget. Furthermore, many of the tasks in contractual agreements ae carried out by new graduates, which adds to their training and aids their transition to the labour market. Finally, collaboration with companies gives university lecturers an up-to-date view of the business sector, which enables them to improve the focus of their research and teaching.
We should take advantage of this two-way flow of benefits and make technology transfer a driver of economic and social change, as well as change in the educational model. To achieve this, we need the clear involvement of institutions in this activity: to provide incentives, support, recognition and dissemination. Other countries have done this. Will we be left behind?
Â Dr Daniela Tost, director of CREB UPC, member of the UPC Technology Center, written with 19 directors of UPC center
Published in La Vanguardia on 17/09/2015