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Proof of concept processes in UK university technology transfer: an absorptive capacity perspective

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Abstract:

Successful research commercialisation within the university domain is predicated upon basic research being developed into technology that will attract funding, ultimately resulting in entities such as University spin-out companies or licensing arrangements. This development process involves considerable risk and uncertainty and may require substantial resources to fund early stage operations while returns are uncertain. Hence there is a need to explore risk-minimisation approaches relating to proving the potential for development while concurrently allocating resources in an incremental manner. This paper focuses on the development of the Northern Ireland Proof of Concept (PoC) process within a University Science Park Incubator (USI) as a particular approach to addressing these challenges inherent in the United Kingdom University technology transfer. Furthermore, Absorptive Capacity has emerged in the literature as an appropriate theoretical framework or lens for exploring the development and application of new technology. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to explore the PoC process within a USI as a means for improving the commercialisation of University technology transfer using an Absorptive Capacity perspective. A multiple case analysis of PoC applications within a UK university is described. From the findings it emerges that Absorptive Capacity influencing factors such as levels of R&D investment, prior knowledge base and integration of stakeholder and technology planning all impact on PoC outcomes. In addition a number of process improvement areas for PoC are identified in relation to the influencing factors within the Absorptive Capacity framework.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.2008.00549.x

Affiliations: 1: School of Marketing Entrepreneurship and Strategy, University of Ulster, Jordanstown Campus, Shore Road, Newtownabbey Co., Antrim BT37 OQB, Northern Ireland, UK., Email: r.mcadam@ulster.ac.uk 2: School of Management and Economics, Queen's University, Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK., Email: m.mcadam@qub.ac.uk

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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