Politicians and business leaders have been discussing the best way to achieve successful knowledge and technology transfer for many years. At first the debate revolved around the transferal of knowledge away from public ‘sources’ – such as traditional universities, universities of applied science and research institutions – and into the private economy. But as things developed, knowledge-based technology gained in importance, the competition for technology intensified and product life cycles shortened. It became necessary to consciously use knowledge and technology in commercial applications and to do this more flexibly, more efficiently and more effectively. No longer do knowledge and technology flow solely from public sources of science into the business environment. The reverse also takes place, with know-how funneling back to the universities, or companies sharing with one another on a project basis.
Steinbeis Centers have now been successfully promoting transfer in this modern form for 30 years. With their support, companies can complete projects for which they lack either the capacity or the specialist knowledge. Steinbeis clients gain access to know-how according to market rules they are familiar with and trust. Research and education receive a fillip fuelled by business practice. This comes from the party which originally ‘owns’ the knowledge and is involved in the Steinbeis transfer process. The Steinbeis partnerships that subsequently emerge with the ‘knowledge owners’ work in unison with the transfer linked to Steinbeis, which is entrepreneurial by nature and enduring. This becomes just one element of a manifold array of instruments.
The Steinbeis Network is continuing the work carried out at a fundamental level in the 19th century by Ferdinand von Steinbeis, the patron of commerce to whom the Steinbeis Foundation owes its name. What started out in 1983 with the first Steinbeis Transfer Center, is now being practiced by around 1,000 Steinbeis Enterprises: the provision of access to knowledge and technology, based on entrepreneurial transfer, and resulting in know-how being put consistently to good commercial use by the customer.
The Steinbeis Transfer magazine gives insights into technology transfer à la Steinbeis, and this edition is no exception. I hope you enjoy reading it!
Dr.-Ing. Leonhard Vilser
Dr.-Ing. Leonhard Vilser is Chairman of the Steinbeis Foundation Board of Trustees.