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TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTRES

Lina, Dave, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 295195dl@student.eur.nl


Feskens, Vince, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands,
297397vf@student.eur.nl

Abstract
Technology transfer centres are centres that help and assist (potential) entrepreneurs to start up
a successful commercial company. New research is done on universities but the problem arises
when it comes to selling a solution/idea commercially, a lot of starters don’t know how to do this
in the right way. They simply don’t have experience with it, and that is exactly why universities
start-up these technology transfer centres.
In Ireland we visited NovaUCD which has a close relation with the University College Dublin,
where a lot of people study and do research. NovaUCD is a technology transfer centre, it has
been proven to be very successful, it connects research with the industry.
Since we study on the Erasmus University, we looked at a similar organization for our university.
This is Erasmus MC Incubator, which was created together with the Erasmus University and
Erasmus MC
This paper will give you a good idea of how technology transfer centres work in general and
more specific how these 2 centres, NovaUCD and Erasmus MC Incubator, operate.

Keywords: Technology transfer centre, NovaUCD, Erasmus MC Incubator.

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1 INTRODUCTION
Every country has an ambition. This ambition can be a lot of things and can depend on many
factors like the amount of raw materials you can produce or the economic wealth the country is
in. For The Netherlands this ambition is to get a knowledge-based economy; to be one of the top
countries in the world if it comes to being innovative.
The Netherlands are already aiming for a knowledge economy but can’t really compete with other
countries like Finland and other Scandinavian countries. Also Ireland is one of the most
competitive countries in this area. Why can’t The Netherlands get more out of there resources
when a country like Ireland, which was a low schooled country and in a few years has grown to a
country with a reliable knowledge-based economy, can.
We visited Dublin and when visited a couple of interesting organizations, one was NovaUCD.
We didn’t exactly know what the purpose was of the organization but soon we got to know this
was a technology transfer centre. In our eyes this could be very interesting when looking at
innovation; this is where research and the industry connect to each other. In other words: the
connection between universities and companies.
So this was a very interesting topic concerned to innovation, so tried to get as much information
as possible from NovaUCD. The next question was do we have similar centres in The
Netherlands? We found out that we have these as well and one of the centres was created together
with the Erasmus University. This shows again the relationship between University and transfer
technology centre.
In this paper we are going to find specific information about these centres and we will try to find
differences and similarities. And maybe we could even find out what kind of influence such a
centre has on the amount of innovation.

2 TRANSFER TECHNOLOGY CENTRES


2.1 Technology transfer centres

The definition of technology transfer is as wikipedia described:


“Technology transfer is the process of developing practical applications for the results of
scientific research.”
This means that a technology transfer centre is trying to help you as a start-up company in this
process. You can say that such a centre helps bringing your idea to life.
But what is this process they are talking about. Many companies, universities and governmental
organizations now have an “Office of Technology Transfer” or “Centre of Technology Transfer”.
This centre is dedicated to identify research which has potential commercial interest and
strategies for how to exploit it. So this says that if a research has a scientific and a commercial
interest there still has to be someone that needs to make a practical progress for this interest.
Such a technology transfer centre is often a combined strength of university, companies and the
government. Because of these combining powers these facilities have a global network that other
innovative facilities can’t compete with. The university has the knowledge, the companies the
money and knowledge of the business side approach to make a product profitable, and the
government has the influence in the politics. For the government it can be important that their
country is working on their knowledge economy. If you have a knowledge-based economy as a
country, a technology transfer centre helps you in being innovative.

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Now we now what the purpose of a technology transfer centre is, but how do they think they can
reach it. So what are they really doing and what makes this so called “innovation labs” so
attractive?
A technology transfer centre helps start-up companies with almost everything a start-up company
needs to function well. As a starting company you can rent some office space for a small price.
They also give a lot of advice about how to make a business plan; they will give you financial
support in making this business plan. And they have a broad network of experts in a broad field.
So you have contact with experts in the university, but you also have the business contacts that
can help you facilitate your product. Of course if you have a lot of start-up companies in the same
building there is the possibility that there will be fusions, because an innovative product could be
better if they put their powers together.

3 CASE STUDY NOVAUCD AND ERASMUS MC INCUBATOR


3.1 Methodology

Well the idea was to compare both the technology transfer centres that are related to the
university that we visited during our 10-day school trip in Dublin (UCD) and our own university.
So we tried to figure out what the most important things are for these technology transfer centres.
By reading a lot of information that we could find on the internet and information that we got in
Dublin, we started off brainstorming. Where could we find interesting similarities and differences
between both centres? Things that we thought that are relevant are these ones, we’ve included the
reason why:
General information
Just some background information of the centres. This includes the year the centre was created
which could be of importance when comparing the successes of both centres. Maybe one of the
two is less successful because it’s a younger technology transfer centre.
Facilities
What are the facilities that the centres got? Facilities like office space, research rooms and
communication channels. We consider these to be relevant to successful commercialisation of
ideas. Office space can limit the amount of entrepreneurs in the centres, same with the rooms,
communication between university, the industry, other entrepreneurs and other people that assist
in the whole process is essential to successful commercialise ideas.
Objectives
What do the centres believe they have to do, what do they think their role is.
Relationship with university
How do they work together, since universities do research and the technology transfer centres try
to commercialise these research results.
Successes
What are the successes, from the participants of the centres and of the centres itself? It could be
an indicator of how well the technology transfer centres are doing.
For each technology transfer centre we tried to find information for each point we mentioned
above. Afterwards we try to find the differences and similarities.

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3.2 Erasmus MC Incubator

Figure 1: Logo Erasmus MC / Erasmus MC Incubator

General information
The Erasmus MC incubator was created on 8th of January 2003. It was setup with the purpose to
assist and help starters from the Erasmus MC, so they could transform their idea into a business.
There are several ways The Erasmus MC Incubator can do this, first of all they try to motivate the
starter and they try to help the starter as much as possible with expert assistance, offering
housing, and it provides the knowledge and financial support.
It was created with the help of the Erasmus University and the Erasmus MC. Erasmus MC is the
biggest medical university centre of the Netherlands. And the Erasmus university always tried to
be important for economic and society successes.
Facilities
So if you became a participant of the Erasmus MC Incubator there will be a couple of (important)
facilities be available to you offered by the Incubator.
In the building of the Erasmus MC faculty on the 19th floor there is 850 m2 of space available for
participants. There is place for offices and laboratories. Everything is there to assist you in your
job as entrepreneur.
They will get you subsidy for making the business plan and for hiring extern advice. This is made
possible via SENTER from the government. You can get a subsidy of €40.000, - max for writing
a business plan. There’s no maximum for subsidy for extern advice but you can’t get more than
€100.000 per idea.
The Erasmus MC Incubator has got a big knowledge network. For everything they got specific
information. One reason for this is because it got its own network and because it tries to find a
connection with other ideas, even internationally. And The Erasmus MC Incubator participates to
‘De Kapitaaldag” or “Startech”, which is a day especially for entrepreneurs and starters. And in
the short future it will start organising its own meetings.
Objectives
The main objective of the Erasmus MC Incubator is:
“Help create life sciences spin-offs by stimulating and supporting (potential) entrepreneurs from
first idea till adult company”

So it all starts with ideas from entrepreneurs, they send in a short business plan. It should show
the Erasmus MC Incubator that it has a high chance to successfully leave the Erasmus MC
Incubator within a couple of years. It should be a renewing idea and it should be based on
knowledge that is developed in the Erasmus MC or otherwise it should have a clear link with the

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Erasmus MC. If everything is alright than the entrepreneur will be participant of the Erasmus MC
Incubator.

Figure 2: Bringing ideas to the market

Relationship with university


Well the Erasmus University had a huge influence together with the Erasmus MC when the
incubator was created. First of all you can do research and come up with new solutions and ideas
but when you’ve done this you need to implement it and get it all worked out. This is where the
incubator comes into place. So the relationship is really close between the incubator and the
university. Research is done on the university and the incubator makes it possible for the
entrepreneur to transform his research into practical results and a start-up business.
Successes
Right now there are 29 participants to the Erasmus MC Incubator, 10 of them aren’t a company
yet. But that means 19 of them are already a company. Some examples,

DNAge B.V.

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DNage is focused on the development of products for medical and health problems associated
with ageing. The Company has several products under development all based on technology and
knowledge developed at the Erasmus MC. DNage has been acquired by Pharming in October
2006.

Skyline Diagnostics B.V.


Skyline Diagnostics is a spin-off company of the Department of Hematology and Bioinformatics
of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam. The company develops and
commercialises new diagnostic tools using micro array technology. The combined efforts of the
departments of Haematology and Bioinformatics enable the company to gain in-depth insight in
the complex gene expression patterns associated with disease. The large collection of well-
defined clinical bio-samples allows Skyline to determine disease specific signatures. In addition,
the infrastructure and expertise of the company provide an excellent base for the discovery,
development and commercialisation of new diagnostic signatures and bio-devices for other
cancers, in part through the collaboration with other academic research groups.

ViroNovative
ViroNovative BV is dedicated to providing a complete solution to human Metapneumovirus
(hMPV) a virus discovered in 2001 at the Department of Virology, Erasmus MC. To this end,
ViroNovative is developing diagnostics, vaccines and antiviral for the detection, prevention and
treatment of hMPV infection.

ViroScope B.V. (CoroNovative B.V.)


Viroscope is dedicated to the discovery of as yet unidentified human and animal viruses with
significant impact on human and animal health. Viroscope was founded in 2003 after the
identification of SARS-corona virus as the causative agent of SARS. Subsequently Viroscope
discovered another human pathogenic corona virus, Human Corona virus NL63 (HCoV/NL63).

Crosslinks B.V.
Crosslinks ambition is to deliver services, solutions and technology in the field of new advanced
visual informatics software designed to deal with large data sets (i.e. from genomics and
proteomics experiments) for life sciences companies, biomedical research and other markets.
The combination of cutting edge ICT technology and in-depth knowledge of life sciences and
medical research makes CrossLinks an outstanding partner in the field of molecular imaging and
molecular diagnostics.

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3.3 NovaUCD

Figure 3: Logo NovaUCD

General information
NovaUCD is the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre at University College Dublin.
Officially opened in October 2003. In 2003, the University, with the support of a public private
partnership and drawing on the track record since 1988 of the University Industry Programme,
established NovaUCD.
NovaUCD’s vision is to become an international leader in the commercialisation of research and
other knowledge-intensive activity for the benefit of the economy and society.
Facilities
NovaUCD got place for 42 knowledge-intensive companies. NovaUCD also contains 14 desk
spaces for people who are at the pre-incorporation stage of forming a company to undertake
feasibility studies. And it also includes bio-incubation or 'wet-lab' space available to
accommodate 6 biotechnology companies. The total space right now is 2850 m2 but they want to
grow in phases.
The building is specifically designed for the development of a community of entrepreneurs. It’s
got a wireless network, which means it’s possible to get information and share it everywhere in
the building. There’s a café which can be used as meeting place for the entrepreneurs. Practical
facilities including board room, seminar rooms, meeting rooms and advanced telecommunications
and AV facilities normally only available to larger companies, and access to internet facilities and
UCD network.

Figure 4: Facility NovaUCD

Objectives

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NovaUCD’s main objective is:
“NovaUCD is a purpose-built centre which offers a supportive environment and incubation
facilities to assist innovators and entrepreneurs in taking their ideas to full commercial success”

Other objectives are; Increasing the early identification, protection and commercialisation of
intellectual property. Promoting entrepreneurship and assisting in the development of campus
companies, especially spin-outs. Developing collaborative arrangements and strategic
partnerships with the industry. Increasing awareness and knowledge of commercialisation and
creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Relationship with university
It’s closely located to the University of Dublin. University College Dublin (UCD) is the biggest
university in Ireland with 5 Colleges and 35 Schools and almost 22,000 students, a quart of it are
postgraduates.
A key element of University’s vision is to become a leading international research-intensive
university where bold and imaginative teaching programmes and excellence in teaching and
learning go along with a commitment to research, scholarship, innovation and creativity. In recent
years, the level of research at the university has increased significantly. The total value of
contracts competitively awarded to university's research community during the academic year
2005/2006 was €83 million.

NovaUCD is responsible for the commercialisation of intellectual property coming from the
university’s research.
Successes
Since 1996 University College Dublin, has supported over 150 campus companies through the
NovaUCD Campus Company Development Programme and the former Campus Innovation
Centre at Roebuck Castle, previously the only incubation space available in UCD prior to the
establishment of NovaUCD. Some examples,

PixAlert
PixAlert provides software and services that protect organisations and their staff from the legal
ramifications of viewing inappropriate and illegal images on workplace computers. PixAlert was
founded by Dr Donal O’Shea and Dr Dara Fitzgerald.

BiancaMed
BiancaMed is a health technology spin-off from UCD’s School of Electrical, Electronic and
Mechanical Engineering which offers leading health technology solutions for monitoring
everyday living. BiancaMed’s vision is to provide convenient health and wellness monitoring
technology for use in daily life.
· During 2006 BiancaMed secured €2.5m investment from DFJ ePlanet Ventures and existing
investor ResMed.

WBT Systems

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WBT Systems is one of the leading providers of intelligent learning solutions across the globe. Its
solutions help organisations to address the business issues that are a must to have success in an
increasingly competitive world. Solutions include mitigating risk and reducing costs by
implementing advanced, robust training and compliance tracking solutions and driving top-line
performance through enabling sales and customer services channels.

• 2006 Digital Media Awards – eLearning Company of the Year Award


• 2004 ICT Company of the Year Award.
Over the last number of years, the UCD spin-out companies have successfully attracted over €100
million in investment capital.

3.4 Results

Before we can come up with results there are a few things that we have to mention. Both
technology transfer centres concentrate on different segments of knowledge. Erasmus MC
incubator only allows entrepreneurs that have a close relation to Erasmus MC. That means the
ideas and companies setup will have to have a relationship with medical issues. While on the
other hand NovaUCD works together with UCD which has a much broader research from these
institutes, The UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research, The UCD
Geary Institute (Research for the Social Sciences), The UCD Humanities Institute of Ireland, The
UCD Urban Institute of Ireland, National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training. We
don’t know if these matters for the amount of ideas brought to the technology transfer centres,
since we didn’t find any information on this subject. And we reckon it would take much time to
research this by ourselves, but we can imagine a broader knowledge segment would allow more
ideas come up but we can’t verify this. Oppositely another thought was that a broader knowledge
segment maybe could come up with even less specialized research.
Another thing we thought could be of importance is the education system. How good are the
students at the universities, what education did they have, and do they know how to do proper
research? We didn’t look at this, but of course it does really matter for the amount of research,
and especially to the level of research. This would be interesting for further research but we
didn’t include it in our research since we simply don’t have the time and resources to gain useful
statistics and information on this subject.
Now we will compare every point we mentioned in the methodology and search for similarities
and differences.
General information
Both technology transfer centres are start up working together with the university institutes. Both
in 2003 but an important difference could the history of the University Industry Programme at the
UCD. This was already there in 1988, which means almost 20 years of experience with
connecting the industry with research.
Facilities
They both have their own place where they operate. Both are really close located to the
researchers, Erasmus MC Incubator is even located in the same building. They both offer housing
for entrepreneurs but NovaUCD significantly got more place to offer, 2850 m2 versus 850 m2.
And notice that NovaUCD are already planning to grow in phases.
They both offer the same kind of facilities concerning communication channels; basically it’s
easy to get into contact with other entrepreneurs in the same building, and as well with other
entrepreneurs when attending several meetings. Internet is used in both and there’s a lot of

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information and help provided to help you to commercialise your idea. This is the most important
role for these technology transfer centres.
Objectives
The main objectives are the same, compare both:
“Help create life sciences spin-offs by stimulating and supporting (potential) entrepreneurs from
first idea till adult company”
“NovaUCD is a purpose-built centre which offers a supportive environment and incubation
facilities to assist innovators and entrepreneurs in taking their ideas to full commercial success”
This is also pretty logical because this is the role of a technology transfer centre. But you can see
a difference when looking at the companies internal objectives. At NovaUCD they are really
focussed on improving on several aspects, they weren’t scared to admit. Which we couldn’t really
find for the Erasmus MC Incubator.
Relationship with university
This relationship is really close with the university in both of the centres. They both were created
with the help of the university and their role is to assist in the process of making an idea
commercial, and make profit of it.
Successes
Both technology transfer centres have made good results. They had a lot of successes already, and
which will be only more in the future. But maybe one thing that’s interesting to mention is that
NovaUCD also got internal awards, to stimulate the whole process to creating a profitable
business out of an idea.
Both NovaUCD and Erasmus MC Incubator are doing a lot of great work. They combine powers
of three platforms, the research, the industry and the government. There’s a lot of knowledge
available that can be used by (potential) entrepreneurs to make their way into the business, and to
make profit. If you compare both technology transfer centres you notice there’s a difference in
size and in the amount of years they have experience with transforming research into profitable
businesses. But yet we see that they both got great successes. These technology transfer centres
are helping a knowledge economy of a country with protecting intellectual property and making
economic successes out of it.

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References

NovaUCD, Used the total content of the site, http://www.ucd.ie/nova/, URL visited on 31-10-
2007
Erasmus MC Incubator, Used the total content of the site, http://www.erasmusmc.nl/incubator/ ,
URL visited on 31-10-2007
Newventure, Erasmus MC Kennistransfer,
http://www.newventure.nl/resources/uploads/files/kick_off_erasmuc_mc/erasmus%20mc%20
kennistransfer.ppt, URL visited on 30-10-2007
University Erasmus Rotterdam, NovaUCD presentation,
http://blackboard.eur.nl/@@92220D3CD7544E28DDB2F7CC2104175F/courses/1/FEB33015
-07/content/_221803_1/NovaUCD.ppt, URL visited on 30-10-2007 (You can only visit this
site if you are a teacher or student on the Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Wikipedia, Technology Transfer, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_transfer, URL visited
on 01-11-2007
Melissa A. Schilling, Strategic Management of Technological Innovation, second edition,
McGraw-Hill / Irwin, 2006
Figure 1, Logo Erasmus MC / Erasmus MC Incubator,
http://www.erasmusmc.nl/incubator/pics/mc.gif, URL visited on 30-10-2007
Figure 2, Bringing ideas to the market, http://www.erasmusmc-
kennistransfer.nl/domains/default/pages/content.aspx?content=15360000000008_2_10000000
001651&contentcode=bringtothemarketcontent&navid=15360000000004_15360000000001,
URL visited on 31-10-2007
Figure 3, Logo NovaUCD, http://www.ucd.ie/nova/images/novaucd%20360.jpg, URL visited on
30-10-2007
Figure 4, Facility NovaUCD, http://www.ucd.ie/nova/images/novaucd%20360.jpg, URL visited
on 30-10-2007

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INNOVATION & ICT

VRiSBI International Research Project Ireland 2007

Study Association VRiSBI


Kamer H11-02
Postbus 1738
3000 DR ROTTERDAM
Email: info@vrisbi.nl
Internet: www.vrisbi.nl
Tel: +31-10-408 8846

Emiel Caron
Assistant Professor
Room H10-19
P.O.Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
The Netherlands

Email: caron@few.eur.nl
Tel. +31-10-4081342
Fax. +31-10-408 9162

VRiSBI is the study association for the study Economics & Informatics at the Erasmus University
Rotterdam. We have over 350 members and there are around 100 students currently in their final
year of the bachelor or master program.
One of our most important tasks is to connect students of Economics & Informatics with
companies to give them an inside look how it is in the field. We try to do this by regularly
organizing different kinds of activities in association with interested companies.
The development and the pleasure of learning for the student is important to us. We do this by
organizing all kinds of activities like company visits, study trips, symposia, etc. etc.
This report in front of you is part of the VRiSBI International Research Project Ireland 2007. The
CD-Rom contains all the reports and it also contains the presentations from the symposium
‘Innovation & ICT’.
ISBN of the complete report: 978-90-812660-1-7

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VRiSBI International Research
Project

“Innovation and ICT”


Comparing Ireland with The
Netherlands

Please visit http://studiereis2007.vrisbi.nl for the


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