Australia is missing out on millions of dollars of value from academic research because universities are placing too much emphasis on research and not enough on development.
In 2016, Australian universities put $10.8 billion into research but spent only $29 million on professionals dedicated to commercialising it.
Australasia’s peak technology transfer body, Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA), is urging universities to better harness the commercial potential of research and increase the number of new ideas brought to market.
KCA chair Dr Erin Rayment said researchers had a wealth of expertise in their chosen field, but it was unrealistic to expect all researchers to be highly-skilled at commercialisation.
“Researchers are a critical part of the value chain—the first idea, the key experiments, the proof of concept—but rarely are they sufficiently skilled to drive the entire commercialisation process,” she said.
KCA wants universities to increase the number of dedicated commercialisation staff to realise the economic value of their research.
“Spending more money trying to upskill researchers simply won’t cut it in a highly-competitive research and development world,” Dr Rayment said.
“Commercialisation requires highly-specialised skills like negotiation, marketing and technology valuation—these aren’t things that researchers are traditionally focused on.
“Australia has a great reputation for punching above our weight in creating new knowledge and producing high-quality scientific publications.
“That’s really important. It’s also important to encourage researchers to engage with industry, build long-term relationships with end users and solve short-term challenges.
“But the current trend to upskill researchers in commercialisation is taking them away from what they do best—the research.”
Dr Rayment made the comments ahead of the KCA Annual Conference, which kicks off in Sydney next month.
The conference brings together technology transfer professionals to talk about best practice in knowledge transfer and commercialisation, and some of the challenges facing the sector.
The 2019 KCA Annual Conference will be held in Sydney from September 12-13. To find out more or to register visit techtransfer.org.au.
Secretariat, Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia
(03) 9416 3833