Germany as a whole enjoys a particularly strong reputation for its scientific and technological expertise, with some federal states playing a prominent role. By their fundamental and applied research, the higher education institutions provide an important foundation for innovation. But innovation only has a genuine impact on business when it is transformed into know-how, new products and new processes. This is why technology transfer and knowledge transfer play a pivotal role.
In the federal states, there are frequently university regulations demanding knowledge transfer and technology transfer between science and business. In Baden-Württemberg, Article 2, Section 4 of state university law says that “By the transfer of knowledge, of development and of technology, the higher education institutions help to implement and use the results of research and development in business life.”
Transfer can take place on a number of levels: consultation, development projects, joint start-ups between universities and businesses, to give just a few examples. It is clear that people’s expectations of technology transfer from universities into business not only depend on the type of technology or the sector, but particularly on the size and structure of the company. Especially with small businesses, both transfer partners face some major challenges. Yet it is generally accepted that small and mediumsized enterprises are one of the key players of the hightech industry today and will be so tomorrow. Within universities and related institutions, there are actually many structures already existing to organize and improve knowledge transfer and technology transfer. It has been found that some hurdles are easier to overcome (or can only be overcome) in commercial set-ups. The Steinbeis Network is such a successful transfer model.
As a rule, universities ensure that their interests and rights are respected when working with transfer partners. The Steinbeis Foundation has officially signed a cooperation agreement with the State of Baden-Württemberg. Many indications and examples show that the Steinbeis Foundation makes sure that the “client company” benefits just as well as the universities. This latest edition of TRANSFER provides information about some recent Steinbeis projects, and I am confident that you will gain many new insights from it.
Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Meisel
Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Meisel is a member of the Steinbeis Foundation’s Board of Trustees as a representative of the universities of applied sciences. He is President of Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, where several Steinbeis enterprises implement specific projects geared to the market.