Technology in general is defined as body of knowledge that is used for the creation of processes or tools according to the requirements. In other words it can be said that specific branch of knowledge that is meant to be used for the creation of technical tools in order to achieve some specific task interrelated to our daily life or to our society. Technology has been evolving with the increasing needs of human beings with passage of time. When there is need a specific problem being faced by huge number of people, technology is applied to find out the most appropriate solutions either on micro level or macro level (UTRS, 2015). The knowledge that already exist within education institutions or federal or government institutions are further exchanged in order to make them in reach of mass population so that they can benefit from that technology.
Such transfer of technology from organizations to other organizations or institutions so that they can be utilized by common population is called the technology transfer process. In simple words technology transfer process can be defined as transition of technology process to market places is called technology transfer process. The technologies or the methodologies and researches done by federal or government institutions are funded by different bodies that let the invention to be declared and further transformed into innovations.
There are basically two terms that can elaborate the term technology transfer, one is market pull and the other one is technology push. When the companies or organizations are looking towards federal technology in order to find solution of any problem then it is called the market pull. On the other hand, when the technologies are introduced in market to create customers’ needs then it is called the technology push (UTRS, 2015). The technology transfer process is not as simple as it seems to be, but it has to go through a number of development phase. There is a complete technology development lifecycle that may contain 5 or 6 cycles containing different steps objective, characterization, hypothesis, prediction, and experiments.
Technology transfer and development process is done from the funding that is required for Research and development R&D purposes. If the technology has not gathered enough funding, it means that the invention will never transitioned to innovation. Most of the technology transfer processes are funded by investors, corporation and federal government (Auerswald, 2002). Some other investors are angels’ investors, universities and state programs. However there are many issues with funding, technology transfer and development process.
In this paper we will be focusing on the technology transfer process and the phases included in it. Moreover the technology development life cycle will be discusses and about the major funding entities that are always ahead in contributing for transition of invention to innovation. All these things are interrelated to each other for the completion of technology transfer process either it can be market pull or technology push. In both cases the technology is to be transferred in the market so that most of people could benefit from it and fulfil their needs.
Technology development life cycle is said to be the distance or transition from invention to innovation that will lead the product to market for the consumption of huge number of customers. However, there are number of steps involved that complete the cycle of technology development. First phase is the modeling of transition, important elements of early stage technology development and infrastructure requirements. The cycle starts from the modeling of transition from invention to innovation. It is important to notify that both invention and innovation are totally different concepts. Invention can be stated as the initial idea product yet to be introduced in the market, however innovation is the final product available in market and ready for user.
In modelling there are five steps included that are basic research, proof of concept/ innovation, early stage technology development, product development and production/ marketing. First two steps in modelling phase are foundations for development of technology that is the research work to be put on before moving forward (Beck, 2013). The second step is however of quite important because it is the invention step that will be carried on for the transition into innovation. Invention is the proof of concept that should show some unique commercial value. After the completion of second step, becomes the transition phase; that is innovation phase that is to present the product specification and demonstrate. It could be a starting point for validation of a business case. In the fourth phase of modelling phase in technology development life cycle is the cost estimation of product is done and in the last phase the product is available in market. The investors are looking for their return on investment in last phase.
The second phase in technology development life cycle is focus main 3 elements that are required from invention to innovation; inventor that is technologist, investor that is manager and the gap between them. There exists a huge gap between the thinking of technologist and the manager. The technologist is aware of his visions and efforts that he put in. on the other hand the manager is only aware of the fact that how much he will be getting on investing in this innovation. It is called valley of death that is important to overcome in order to get funding. It is like an investor comes to technologist and ask few questions like, what you are up to. What are you doing? How much will I be getting out of this product? (Auerswald, 2002) It is the point for the technologist, if he has got the answers to motivate and convince investor he will cross the valley of death, else he will be left alone with his invention in valley of death.
The third phase in technology development life cycle is the availability of necessary infrastructure. We are not talking about the huge infrastructure for the development of final product to be introduced in market, but talking about necessary infrastructure for development of innovation at a small scale. It can be said the complimentary assets for the product to be accepted in market. A simple example is to find the supplier for the critical equipment for the product.
The technology transfer process is a process composed of series of steps that are quite delicate in their nature and or important at every step. It is because the information is everything that is meant to be secure at each step in order for successful completion of technology transfer process. Here are steps: research, invention disclosure, assessment, patent protection, marketing and licensing.
Research is the foremost step that lead to the discoveries in potential market with its commercial benefits. So it is important that the research information should be protected as it works as root for the further development of technology and transfer process (OTM, 2015). It means that the information should be protected by all means, there are number of ways that are used to secure the research like by traditional trademarks, patent and copyright.
The second step involved in technology transfer process is invention disclosure to an authority. In this step the invention report with complete detail is submitted because it is a closed disclosure meaning that the information in invention report will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone (UCLA, 2015). The invention report contains all the procedure of technology development and its application in market or how it will impact the customers. Once the report is submitted to intellectual property council, then a manager is assigned to the invention report, who will take care of report and talk to the sponsors of invention.
Once the report has been submitted, the next step is assessment of report about work by team of organization. It is good as it helps in identification of new scope for research and other innovations in the same research area. This process decides whether the invention report should be recommended for further commercialization or not. Then on the basis of evaluation done on the research, it is decided in which area the technology will fit in market place.
In this phase of technology transfer process, the decision is to be taken whether the research should be patented or not (OTM, 2015). It is done if the research is sufficiently developed or it can make its place in market. In other words it is seen either the research has the potential to make its place and used for commercial purposes or not.
After the aforementioned processes, when the invention is ready to put in the market, then it enters in the marketing phase, not for the customers but for the investors. This marketing material of invention helps the invention to get through the licensing process and find the appropriate investors. It is just like in technology development life cycle where most of the inventors fall the valley of death and fail to transit their invention into innovation.
The last but not the least step in technology transfer process is of licensing. In this process an agreement is signed between the inventor and some other investor or organizations mostly with university (OTM, 2015). Licensing process may include negotiations on different aspects including, scope of license right, sublicense sharing, license fee, minimum royalties, royalties, and patent reimbursement and performance milestones.
Talking about funding for technology transfer process and technology development life cycle, then the main and most important aspect is of funding. If the inventors are able to convince their investors so that they can fund their research and transit their invention to innovations then they can achieve their goals like a lot have achieved in past. There are different modes of funding for technology transfer process, but most of funding is done in private sector so we will focus on funding bodies that are funding to private projects. The funding bodies in private sector are corporations, venture capital firms, angel investors and universities. We will have a look at all the funding bodies and the issues related to those funding for technology transfer process.
Corporations have been investing a lot in technology transfer process and its funding ratio has increased dramatically in last decades. It is said that in 1990 the funding by corporates in R&D has doubled in industry however the funding from federal remained flat (Auerswald, 2002). It is because most of the funding was transformed into commercial products available in market place. There is one issue in funding by corporations and that is they mostly focus on short term procedure development. Corporations also outsource their funding with alliance another party in order to share their risks and also decrease investments. It gives them more reach in less money that is why corporations outsource funding projects through contracts and partnership. Another form of funding done by corporation is with the introduction of new idea in form a new firm that is associated with firm but away from core business of corporation. All of these funding by corporation seem to have one direction and that is they focus on invention research that has maximum return on investment.
Another body for funding technology transfer process is venture capital that is iterative process and in seed. It can be said that it is form of creating a relation with inventor who is working in promised direction but is not able to identify its market place. There are certain limitations with venture capital, one is that as the size of venture capital increases they invest in low risk area. Another limitation with venture capital is that they invest in local bodies so that they can be in touch where they have invested their money. It can be said that venture capital is a modest contribution to early stage technology development process.
Angel investors also provide funding for technology transfer process as they have experience in investing in initial stages of hi tech projects. The same issue exist in angel investors, as they have a lot of money, they want to invest near them so that they can visit company every day and then back to their desk.
Universities are also fund for technology transfer process because they are aware of the fact that their knowledge is their intellectual property and they can make money from it. There are number of reasons for universities to invest in this process, they can maximize return on their endowments and start their own venture capital to push on other projects.
Technology development life cycle is an iterative process that lets the invention to transform into innovations with the indulgence of different bodies playing their own designated roles. However it starts from invention research and ends up with the production of final product in the market with funding by third party who will be financing the whole process. It is evident that technology transfer process is not a simple process that could be carried out by a single entity but it involves series of steps from its identification, assessment, marketing to patenting and partnering with other investors. Only invention to innovation transition is not the hard part of technology transfer process but another important factor is funding that is to be acquired at right time for its completion. Many bodies have been formed to get funding but there is only one requirement seems to be eminent and that is with this age of competition, the invention must be inspiring enough to let the investors invest in it and market could adopt it.
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