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Building a Biotech: Nanotechnology Tech Transfer for the Future

In the second part of our 'Building a Biotech' series, our CEO Vivienne Williams reflects on her time at the European Commission workshop on Technology Transfer in Nanotechnology in Lecce, Italy on the 18th and 19th October, and gives more information on why technology transfer and IP are important for biotechs.

This week, I attended the European Commission's workshop on tech transfer in nanotechnology. I decided to outline what I put into and got out of this, and to define why tech transfer in nanotechnology is important.

What is technology transfer? Technology transfer is a form of commercialization – where the scientific ideas and inventions from academia are negotiated and transferred to industry. It is an often overlooked but utterly crucial step in bringing discoveries to market. Many discoveries lie languishing in the literature, with the potential to improve lives, but are hampered by issues with technology transfer.

What is the idea of the EC workshop?

The idea of the event was to explore how technology transfer activities can be used as a mechanism to help EU industry, especially start-ups and SMEs, to uptake nano-technology. This mainly focused on policy implementations at all levels that could help accelerate this adoption procedure.

Why is this important? To establish excellent frameworks for technology transfer around nanotechnology paves the way not only for businesses that would benefit from it; it also provides reference points for future tech transfer in other knowledge-economy based processes.

This, in turn, allows for development and demonetization of knowledge assets, and for the creation of new jobs, increased funding into the area, and new production routes.

The implementation of newer technologies like nanotechnology into industry requires the creation of 'ecosystems of innovation' (EoIs), but there is no exact science to this, and technology transfer is a difficult step.

My talk I was invited to give a talk at the workshop and gave a presentation entitled 'Challenges and best practices of technology transfer in nanotechnology', from the point of view of start-ups and spin-offs.

During this, I talked about some of the best practices in technology transfer: the structures we have in place and how we can improve them, and also about the challenges in technology transfer and IP for small businesses and spin-offs.

Cellix's tech transfer background I talked about Cellix's own current B2B licensing deals and pipeline, and Cellix’s vision: to be the go-to microfluidics company in high-throughput cell analysis and sorting, and to develop tailored solutions customized for applications in the food & beverage, agri-biotech and health / personalized medicine sectors over the next 5 years.

I also talked about how we'll support this vision; by continuing to build a strong patent portfolio whereby our revenue model is via IP licensing, JV and OEM.

Challenges and best practices in tech transfer During the talk, I discussed putting clear structures in place to protect IP, such as invention disclosure forms, and when to file patents, and how the dissemination of information before patent filing needs to be controlled.

I also suggested that one possibility we could look at would be tying in an accredited course so the knowledge of how to protect IP is there among staff.

The workshop During the rest of the workshop, I met a host of interesting and interested people, from technology providers to industry executives, policy makers, technology transfer officers, and other stakeholders.

Overall, I think the workshop was extremely useful; there was an emphasis on providing practical examples to help businesses understand the potential technology transfer has in the realm of nanoscience.

Other workshops included challenges and best practices of tech transfer in Nanotechnology from the point of view of universities and research centres, as well as a visit of the facilities of the Nanotec Institute, public and private initiatives fostering tech in nanotechnology, challenges and best practices of tech transfer in nanotechnology from the point of view of the industry and SMEs.

This workshop was organised by the JRC, in collaboration with the National Research Council (Cnr), and the workshop took place in CNR Nanotec in Lecce.

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