4 - Services, advice and consultancy

4.7 - Creating university spinoffs specialising in consultancy


ith the objective of promoting technology transfer from universities to companies, universities could create spin off companies in order to offer consultancy services in specific areas of knowledge. This would reduce the cultural distance between the two worlds (academic and business), whilst using the knowledge and resources of the University, and obtaining a financial benefit in return.

Studies which have been carried out show that more than two thirds of American academics are involved in technology transfer, mostly in the form of consultancy.


ISIS Innovation

Oxford University has created ISIS Innovation, a company which operates in various areas, including providing the experience and knowledge of professors and research staff to businesses or public organisations (see recommendations 4.1 and 5.2).

Imperial Consultants

Imperial Consultants, which was founded in 1990, was created to connect the business world with the knowledge and resources of London’s Imperial College, carrying out consultancy work in several of the prestigious academic institution’s areas of specialisation. Their staff come from Imperial College, and have access to more than 3,000 academics and researchers from every field of engineering, medicine, science and business. They provide consultancy services, analysis and technical advice, expertise, project management, and tests and trials. There are other similar examples that also have a high success rate, including Cambridge Enterprises and ETH Production Technologies Zurich.

The Technofit Pro Project

The TechnoFit Pro project was set up in Styria (Austria) with European funding support from ERDF (€97,000) but only lasted for less than a year (April 2005 – March 2006). The idea behind the initiative was to provide small businesses with tailor-made technological consultancy services, using the experience of the three universities and an important R&D institute in this region in the southeast of Austria.

By addressing the specific needs of small businesses in Styria, the Technofit Pro project managed to enhance their performance in the field of Innovation. Before carrying out this project, although there was a high degree of innovation in certain areas of Styria, largely thanks to corporations, large companies, universities and research institutes, the SMEs remained apart from this situation.

In order to address this situation, the four partners who set up the project provided training and consulting services tailored to the needs of small businesses, through a collaborative network (non-profit), using a standardised and coordinated approach. The Pro Technofit team featured seven specialists in knowledge transfer, who were supported by an intellectual network of over a thousand scientists who could provide knowhow in every area of interest.

As a result of the approximately 90 interventions, 25 entrepreneurial projects came to fruition, and despite only receiving modest amounts of funding, the joint activities acted as leverage, and led to collaboration with leading academic institutions.

Although Technofit Pro was short lived, thanks to the success of the project, the initiative has been maintained with the help of regional funding.

Implementation process


  1. Interview with Mr. Adametz, Director of the of the TT, TU Graz, Styria (Austria).
  2. http://www.imperial-consultants.co.uk/news/2010/more-academics-involved-consultancy-traditional-knowledge-transfer-intellectual-property Business Creation in Academia - Imperial College London.
  3. http://www.imperial-consultants.co.uk/ - Imperial Consultants - Imperial College London.
  4. http://www.sciencefit.at/ - Technofit Pro.