Brussels, 26 Feb 2003
ProTon Europe, a pan-European network of technology transfer offices linked to universities and public research organisations, has been launched at a kick off meeting for new members in Brussels.
ProTon Europe (public research organisations transfer office network) is supported by the Commission funded Gate2Growth initiative, and aims to create a forum for the exchange of good practice in the area of technology transfer.
Ernst Max Nielsen, ProTon Europe's network manager, told CORDIS News that the initiative aims to add a pan-European dimension to the field of technology transfer, and to partner with existing transfer offices to develop capabilities.
'The exchange of best practice is the cornerstone of the programme: technology transfer is still a relatively new profession and is rapidly developing, so the sharing of experiences is vital,' he said.
The launch meeting in Brussels brought together the first 42 members of the network, who were selected on the basis of a call for expressions of interest. Over 160 expressions were received, representing every EU country and most of the associated and candidate countries. Ultimately, ProTon Europe hopes that its membership will be roughly double the current level.
Each member has been recruited to one of seven working groups, in which the core content of the network will be developed. The themes of the working groups are: transfer office structure and management, patenting and intellectual property rights, licensing, interaction with industry, spin offs and campus companies, policy development, and continuous professional development.
First, the working groups will perform a comprehensive assessment of current approaches to research exploitation within transfer offices by using an integrated questionnaire. The results will then be collected and disseminated via the ProTon knowledge management system, and through workshops and conferences.
A system will also be created whereby those technology transfer professionals not selected as members of the network can still contribute to the exchange of best practice.
Alongside its aim of creating a comprehensive knowledge base, the ProTon Europe network also seeks to foster a European identity for the technology transfer profession, and provide an input to European and national policy making on the issue.
Mr Nielsen describes this aspect of the network's role as being 'a hub among existing networks in order to give the profession a voice at EU level.' He described to CORDIS News the necessity of adopting a coordinated approach when trying to influence a policy area that can be disjointed at an institutional level: 'Our profession touches on a number of different areas of policy within various Directorates of the Commission, so having an effect can be quite a challenge.'
The first target for those associated with ProTon Europe is to begin the task of amassing the knowledge and tools that currently exist within the profession. The intermediary results of this key exercise will then provide the focus for the network's first annual conference in November 2003, and through such initiatives, its members hope that it will begin to fulfil its ultimate aim of stimulating growth, competitiveness and employment in Europe.
For further information, please consult the following web address: