The main challenges, perspectives and issues of technology transfer from the knowledge arena and universities to start-ups and companies were the main focal points for the Mobile Talks session held on 5 July at the Madrid headquarters of ISDI.
Focusing on the topic “Applied tech for corporate venturing”, six experts from different areas of the field of technology transfer reflected on everything from the various perspectives in this arena, from the point of view of education, research and business creation, to the different models in use.
The session featured an introduction by Óscar Sala, director of The Collider; Jordi Albó-Canals, associate researcher at Sant Joan de Déu Research Foundation in Barcelona and Tufts University in Boston; Cristina Bescos, managing director of EIT Health Spain; Javier Herrera, sales manager at Tecnalia, Research & Innovation; Lynn Yap, expert in Innovation and Brand Strategy; and Joan Peset, chief of the R&D department at COMSA Corporación; all moderated by co-founder and CEO of ISDI, Nacho de Pinedo.
At the beginning of the session, Director of The Collider Óscar Sala highlighted the opportunity that comes with the activity generated by the MWC Barcelona in the field of technology transfer applied to industry. Sala noted that Spain has great scientists and that the country produces nearly 3% of all papers in the world. The executive explained that The Collider is a space that connects scientific talent with entrepreneurs to start up and grow disruptive companies, meaning to transform knowledge into a market asset with high added value.
Researcher Jordi Albó-Canals reflected on the differences between the two areas he works in, United States and Europe, and stressed that scientists in North America have a much better reputation and are trusted much more to generate knowledge. In Europe, however, universities and companies are very reticent to work on projects together.
Albó-Canals also came down on the side of universities getting private funding, which Joan Peset, chief of the R&D department at COMSA Corporación, agreed with. Peset highlighted that it is inconsistent that European universities require students to do work experience in companies when some professors and department chairs have never left the university or worked in a real company.
Managing Director of EIT Health Spain Cristina Bescos highlighted the triangle formed by research, education and business creation, and explained that there are models that don’t work because they are based almost exclusively on innovation or business, but don’t include other elements from this triangle. Bescos noted that one of Europe’s greatest challenges in competing with powerhouses like China or the United States is specialisation and fragmentation. Plus, she is in favour joining forces in Europe in this arena, not only on a State level but also in the public-private partnership arena.
Javier Herrera, sales manager at Tecnalia, Research & Innovation, explained his experience with applied research to help the industrial sector in Euskadi and assured that existing models from other levels and places in Europe can be applied. Herrera brought up one of the greatest problems today, which is that many companies are still far from digitisation and technology transfer is often far from meeting the needs of the sectors.
Expert in Innovation and Brand Strategy Lynn Yap has worked in companies on three continents, which allowed her to state that the first ingredient we have to have is for all relations in this arena to be based on trust. According to Lynn, without openness there is no trust between stakeholders. Plus, she highlighted the capacity to have the same level of conversation between start-ups and large companies, because otherwise it is impossible to have the resources or business decisions necessary for success.
Finally, Joan Peset explained how The Collider helped his company’s projects reach the market, as they wouldn’t have been able to do it on their own. So, he made it clear that one of the problems of innovation in large companies lies in their own internal processes and that contact with start-ups has helped change attitudes: now some companies’ strategy is to let part of the innovation process work independently, which helps speed up the process.
Below is the full video of the session.