4 - Services, advice and consultancy

4.4 - Outsourcing and specialising knowledge transfer services


In some countries Universities have used specialised private organisations in order to avoid or reduce the potential lack of understanding, motivation or shared objectives with Companies. These are consulting firms which develop technological surveillance skills, exploitation of patents and licences, location of partners, recommendations for collaboration, advice on negotiating contracts, etc.

The main advantage of this approach is that economic interests are linked to the successful recruitment of partners for research groups and companies, and the final result of the joint project. Furthermore, the consultants offer advice and contacts with investors and other sources of funding.


UAB Holding de la Universidad de Uppsala (Sweden)

UUAB Holding is a company which was created by the University of Uppsala in 1996, and it allowed the university to offer professional services to the research community whilst licensing new technology developed by its researchers, and collaborating in the launching of internally developed spinoffs.

The company provides specialised legal and technical advice on intellectual property protection to researchers at the University of Uppsala, and even participates financially, by providing seed capital to launch new TBCs promoted by its researchers. UUAB Holding is also a tool which enables researchers to license their patents, and it actively participates in negotiations with interested companies, charging a commission of between 20% and 40% of the profits obtained from the marketing of the knowledge.

Liaison Offices

The creation of intermediary offices (Liaison Offices) is another formula for facilitating contact between companies and universities. An essential characteristic of liaison offices is the fact that they come from the productive sector and speak the same language as the companies themselves with terminology such as deadlines, costs, scope and quality. Furthermore, they can also then help them connect with university research groups.

 Liaison Offices are mechanisms which are expert in economic and business matters and can facilitate access to university research. Conceptually they are similar to Chambers of Commerce and Industrial Associations or Federations, bodies which businesses tend to be accustomed to interacting with.

  • The organisation of interviews with companies in order to gain information about the general situation in their sector and detect their needs, thereby being able to put them in contact with research groups who most closely reflect their requirements.
  • The organisation of workshops or meetings between selected research groups and companies.
  • The arranging and organisation of visits to laboratories and other facilities belonging to research groups.

Véneto Innovazione

In order to strengthen the role of mediators in the region of Veneto (Italy), consultants who have expertise in the business field have been contracted to facilitate technology transfer between Universities and Companies.

The Veneto Innovation Agency (Veneto Innovazione) has hired a private international consulting firm to promote the sale of licences for patents developed in the region’s universities.

Implementation process

Agents required for implementation

The privatisation of mediation services could be implemented by either a single company or a group of companies. Universities can also seek help from external institutions with experience in the valorisation of technology and knowledge. Alternatively, the Liaison Offices themselves could be set up by a group of companies concentrating their efforts on promoting the development of the role of intermediaries specialised in this field.

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  1. Interview with the Director of the Veneto Innovazione technology transfer agency (http://www.venetoinnovazione.it/).
  2. Research and Technology Transfer Office, University of Padua.
  3. MIT Industrial Liaison Program: (http://web.mit.edu/tlo/www/industry/liaison.html).