Technology transfer and dissemination of knowledge

Successful business in a volatile and unpredictable environment requires intensive interactions with many partners and contractors.The rapid development of modern technologies and the transformation of formal and informal knowledge as the main determinants for competitiveness require new rules of interaction within innovation and industrial networks - using a whole variety of channels for the exchange of information, fast decision making, and extension of contact groups.

Maintaining innovation potential at high technological level, the formation of rapidly renewable product portfolio and the persistence of global markets to a large extent depend on the ability of businesses to:

  • maintain in-house competence in relation to changes in the competitive environment, the opportunities and potential of the various channels and forms of technology transfer in order to use their complex use and extraction of synergy effect;
  • establish an internal attitude and receptivity to knowledge acquired outside the company;
  • create open contacts and interaction within the national and international innovation networks not only in the technological chain, but with competitive structures, universities, research organizations and intermediary bodies.

In Bulgaria, a little over 91% of businesses meet the definition of micro (with growth of 15% for the second consecutive year) (see 1).Another 8.6% are representatives of a group of small and medium enterprises.Baring in mind this characteristics of the business formations which are part of the national innovation system as a major participant and intermediary between the new technological knowledge and market, it is imperative that efforts are aimed at promoting technology transfer and the creation of a national framework that supports the construction of networks and close interaction between the participants in the innovation process.

Enterprises in the country still do not have a tradition of participation in the joint, including innovative activity and businessess rely primarily on their own limited opportunities in the implementation of projects for modernization of production processes and product portfolio.Companies that participate as active partners in innovation networks do not fully exploit their potential.The contacts of the companies are mainly within the sectoral value chain with their direct counterparties (customers, suppliers) and funders.

Priority is given to local rather than to foreign partners.Quality of innovation networks (where they are created) is evaluated based on indicators such as small number of participants, low intensity of interactions; low number of contacts.

The lack of systematic institutionalized links between units, creating new knowledge, on the one hand (universities, research institutes and centers) and the business on the other, does not allow to talk about the existence of a complete chain "science - business - practice".Of actual forms of technology transfer, the largest share (both on domestic and international markets) has those associated with low levels of technological change - the technical documentation, licenses, designs and models.

The European experience is extremely rich of successful models for the implementation of intra-system and inter-system interaction.Given the stated priorities for development of the national innovation system it is worth to invest efforts for:

Promotion of inter-firm interaction.

Forms of realization of this type of interaction are extremely varied and depend on the established corporate practices.Most popular in modern conditions are scientific and technical alliances (sustainable alliance between companies for joint funding of research including possible involvement of universities and private laboratories), consortia (voluntary union between independent organizations to implement a particular project, after the end of the project, the existence of the consortia is suspended) and joint ventures.

Processes of globalization, the emergence of new and swiftly developing economic centers and aggressive competition affected the increased number of mergers and acquisitions, especially in the sectors such as telecommunications, computers, finance, pharmaceuticals.The Bulgarian market is also subject to reallocation in these areas.

Intensification of the interaction between university and business units.

Thanks to its functions to conduct fundamental research and prepare highly qualified specialists universities are an extremely important element of the innovation system.Their importance for the effective functioning of the national innovation system grew under the influence of several factors: the multidisciplinary nature of education and research;fading boundary between pure basic research and applied research;increasing requirements on quality of the prepared human resources and its ability to perceive new knowledge and adapt it in the changing environment.In response to these challenges, universities are increasingly channeled into closer contact with the business as an opportunity for risk sharing in research, optimal use of existing base (laboratory facilities, personnel) and create opportunities for future competitive development (both institutional and in particular for the development of teaching staff and students).

Whatever form this interaction takes, it is an important source of ideas and project development for businesses (which cannot alone perform technology transfer and dissemination of knowledge and do not have the qualified personnel and units to implement R & D) and an additional source of financing thinned university budgets.Other important effects of such interaction are possibility for approbation of established theoretical concepts and participation in international research projects.

Development of intermediary infrastructure.

The dynamics of the environment, the accumulation of technological knowledge stimulate the creation of intermediary organizations with diverse functions and scope of activity. Innovation environment becomes more and more colorful.Concentration of certain information, financial and human resources that are specialized in the implementation of specific functions within innovation networks enables their use at minimum unit cost by organized user (innovating company) or an inventor.

Achieving a higher level of internal system specialization leads to improving the quality of the end product and higher added value for the system as a whole.

Maximize the potential of public-private partnerships.

Joint Research Centre of the European Commission is a specific scientific and technical unit of the European Commission (see 2).Based on scientific expertise and technical know-how it provides consulting services and support for a wide range of European policies.Key areas include the environment and climate, energy, transport, agriculture, health, IT and security.Within the JRC there are seven scientific institutes equipped with numerous laboratories and unique research facilities.Based on a large number of cooperation agreements access to these facilities have a number of scientists from partner organizations.JRC works with about 1,000 partners, most of them within the EU.Partnerships take many different forms - joint research projects, networks of national laboratories and agencies, workshops and trainings, exchange of scientists and knowledge (see 3).

One of the main directions of the JRC is the management of intellectual property and technology transfer. As the center creates and manages most intellectual property rights of the Commission over the years he has gained experience in the identification, protection and management of assets related to intellectual property.This is particularly true of technological breakthroughs and their transfer to maximize their benefit.

Based on this experience the JRC experts are actively involved in the development of policies relating to intellectual property, technology transfer and entrepreneurship.

Technology transfer.

In the execution of its mission, the JRC creates a number of technological assets.Certain technological and software development or databases are reported to the Office of Technology Transfer of the JRC.The office assesses whether the nature of these findings worth intellectual protection and whether they have sufficient market potential.All acquired intellectual property rights belong to the EU.

Licensing strategy of the JRC is not based on seeking the greatest return on investment, but rather is aimed at maximizing the impact of research results.When this can be achieved with widespread dissemination, then JRC may decide to grant non-exclusive licenses to a wide range of partners.

Accelerate the process of innovation clustering.

Regardless of the desire of many countries in recent years to build national innovation systems and implement national strategic and programming documents for the development of innovation potential, it is clear that it is at the regional level where the specifics and peculiarities of the individual local communities can be felt, which often deviate significantly from the presented averages of the key macroeconomic indicators.In this sense, innovation clusters solve several problems: expressing the state of the regional economy and the specifics of its innovation potential;allow the implementation of the action on those factors that are critical to this concrete region;help in overcoming the inter-regional divergence in performance status and dynamics based on unique competitive advantage for each region.

(1) The Innovation.bg, ICT and innovative search Foundation "ARC" 2012.
(2) http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/jrc/index.cfm?id=1370
(3) http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/jrc/index.cfm?id=1790&lang=en