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Technology transfer is a formalized mechanism through which universities speed the delivery of public benefits by enabling companies to utilize research discoveries in their product and technology development programs.

Key points

  • Technology transfer is a two-way flow of benefits between universities and businesses. This practice began long before today's "New Economy." Since the early 1800s, companies have started up and depended upon university expertise. As early as 1943, the University of California initiated a patent policy to enable technology transfer activities.
  • Companies invest in university research for a variety of reasons: to access expertise of faculty; to identify new recruits for their R&D departments; and to leverage their limited R&D budgets and intellectual property interests.
  • The research university is often the only institution that advances important fundamental research that lays the foundation on which future economic opportunities are built.
  • Technology transfer enables research advances to be transformed into products, technologies, services and other benefits the public can use. Technologies are often "transferred" for commercial purposes through the licensing of UC-owned intellectual property by private companies. These licenses are standard practice at universities throughout the country.
  • Companies that license university inventions usually undertake substantial subsequent R&D efforts in order to bring new products, technology and services to the market.
  • Small businesses (under 500 employees) account for roughly 60% of technology licensing agreements made by universities, federal laboratories, and non-profit research labs, according to the Association of University Technology Managers 1999 licensing survey.
  • Technology transfer helps maintain the country's competitive edge in the quick-changing, global economy and generates new jobs - an estimated 270,000 jobs in FY 1998-99.
  • The commercialization of academic research resulted in more than $40 billion in academic activity in 1999, according to the Association of University Technology Managers licensing survey. UC earned $80.9 million from commercialized inventions in FY 1999.

Technology Transfer at the Governor Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation

A priority for the institutes is to foster new cutting-edge research and education programs. Equally important is the rapid delivery of research advances to the private sector for the development of new technologies and products that benefit the public. Technology transfer procedures provide the essential conduit for making the benefits of research at the institutes available to the public through the marketplace.

For more information: UC Office of Technology Transfer

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