A range of networks and transfer points facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technologies from higher education institutions to companies. An overview is provided here.
Networking and information sharing are central to knowledge and technology transfer (KTT) between higher education institutions and companies. The Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) offers a range of federal instruments to encourage KTT. In addition, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) works with the cantons to coordinate KTT activities in relation to regional policies.
The R&D consortia’s role is to combine expertise and resources in clearly defined industrial and service areas so that companies will have access to sophisticated solutions. This should also lead to more high quality CTI projects. The following R&D consortia are active in the cleantech sector:
Since 2005, CTI, SECO, FOEN and SFOE have made a combined annual contribution of CHF 4 million to four regional KTT consortia and one thematic KTT consortium with a more national focus. Specially trained KTT coaches who have considerable industrial experience provide a number of services: they advise SMEs on how best to gain access to the knowledge base of higher education institutions; they provide assistance with CTI grant applications; and they help SMEs to join national and international networks. This support is provided in response to demand from companies themselves (technology pull process). In addition, KTT consortia help researchers at higher education institutions to find suitable company partners for the purpose of transforming research findings into marketable products and services (science push process). One of these consortia is devoted exclusively to cleantech topics:
The energie-cluster.ch energy platform is a KTT network in the energy sector which is funded by the SFOE, SERI/CTI and several cantons. Its work includes bringing higher education institutions and companies together to work on joint R&D projects (matchmaking), intensive consulting and project coaching. About 2,500 company and competency profiles are stored in a database, which is searchable on the basis of 30 different indicators. This database is used to arrange contacts and facilitate the knowledge and technology transfer process.
Cantonal cleantech initiatives
Several cantons and regions have launched cleantech initiatives which are devoted to promoting cleantech and providing a network for those involved in this domain.
KTT contact points at higher education institutions
Most higher education institutions in Switzerland now have their own KTT contact point, which provides support to researchers who are either looking to market their research findings, protect their intellectual property or licence a product. As higher education institutions, their main focus is on generating knowledge (science push process).