The director of NovaUCD, the technology transfer centre, Dr Pat Frain has been elected as chair of the council of the Association of University Research and Industry Links (AURIL), a professional association that represents knowledge transfer practitioners in Ireland and the UK.
AURIL was founded in 1995 and is now said to be the largest knowledge transfer association in Europe with more than 1,600 members from universities in Ireland and the UK, as well as NHS trusts and public sector research establishments. Frain becomes the first representative of a university from the Republic of Ireland to chair the council since it was formed.
Early next year an Institute of Knowledge Transfer will be formally launched and AURIL has been one of the main drivers to establish this body. The institute will have a remit to develop standards for the profession within the universities and public research organisations in addition to industry and other organisations.
In addition, AURIL and other national knowledge transfer associations recently signed a strategic partnership agreement with ProTon Europe, a pan-European network of knowledge transfer professionals. The aim of this agreement is to provide a voice for the technology transfer profession across Europe and to develop policies and good practice through the network of technology transfer offices in universities and public research organisations.
Commenting on these developments, Frain said they could not have come at a more critical time for Ireland. “In recent months the Government in its strategy for science, technology and innovation agreed for the first time to provide significant funding for the development of technology transfer offices within the universities and institutes of technology,” he noted. “International experience, particularly in the US and UK, has shown that the successful commercialisation of university research can only be achieved with the support of strong technology transfer offices within the institutions.”
He added that setting high standards for the profession in Ireland would be essential in attracting experienced technology transfer professionals to work in universities here and to encourage top graduates to choose technology transfer as a career.
By Gordon Smith