General information on Switzerland can be found in wikipedia.org web site by clicking here.
General overview of the Swiss TT landscapeEdit
A recent article from Mrs Françoise Chardonnens working as Licensing Legal Officer in the EPFL-SRI technology transfer office describes the Swiss TT landscape and was published recently in the Licensing executives society journal "Les Nouvelles".
General Principles of Technology Transfer at Swiss Universities (1)Edit
The primary tasks of universities are education and research, based on open dissemination and making results freely available to the public. An additional responsibility of universities is the valuation of economically interesting research results. An active technology transfer and intellectual property management will see the universities work put to effective use for the public through collaboration with existing companies or with start-up/spin-off firms.
Therefore, the universities are interested in cooperating with private enterprise and support their staff in their pursuit of such collaborations. The different objectives of universities and private enterprise must be taken adequately into consideration in the defining of mutual projects and in technology transfer. The following principles have been set up to provide guidance on such issues.
- Partnership relations in cooperating with private enterprise: The cooperation between private enterprise and universities rests on the basis of partnership. The diversity of different projects is taken into account by means of a flexible procedure suited to each separate project.
- Protection of intellectual property, intellectual property rights : The universities recognize the significance of the protection of intellectual property and the resulting intellectual property rights for the later commercialization of research results. They make efforts, out of their own responsibility, or together with the cooperation partners, to obtain adequate protection of research results in that they patent economically interesting results or protect them in another suitable way.
- Freedom of publication: The publication of scientifically interesting research results is a central task of universities. Through this, the advancement of the academic junior staff is ensured, and the existence in international competition is guaranteed. Before publication, adequate time for the preparation and submission of a patent application can be provided thus enabling the future economic realization of research results.
- Rights to intellectual property: Research results made by university staff during their research activity are owned by the universities (according to existing laws). The rights of the partners to results which are acquired during collaborations are stipulated by contract.
- Contracts: The universities lay down guidelines regarding authorization of, and right to sign contracts.
- Share in economic success: The universities are entitled to an appropriate financial share of the revenues generated by the cooperation partner through commercialization of the intellectual property rights. The contributions of each partner are taken into account. A share of returns is allocated to the involved scientists and their institutes.
- Conflicts of interests: In the cooperation between universities and external partners, conflicts of interests may arise which result from the different tasks and aims of the partners participating. In order to avoid or recognize at an early stage such conflicts of interests, a clear separation between the rights and duties of the partners involved, and transparency in the collaboration are essential. To govern conflicts of interests, the universities lay down suitable internal guidelines and define further appropriate measures.
(1) Principles adopted by the technology transfer professionals of the Swiss universities and of both Federal Institutes of Technology at their annual meeting in Villars on February 1st and 2nd , 2002
The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences has published ethical guidelines that have been used by some Universities to provide directives in regards of conflict of interest (an example is the Universit of Geneva). Also of interest are the directives published by the Academy about Collaboration between Physicians and Industry.
Public Funding AgenciesEdit
The main funding agency for the research in Switzerland is the Swiss National Foundation.
The Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI is the body entrusted by the Swiss government with the task of overseeing applications- and business-oriented research and development. The CTI's primary goal is twofold: to facilitate access to the Swiss research establishments and international research programmes, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and to translate R&D results rapidly and efficiently into marketable products and services. To reach these goals it provides financial support for public research institutions (PROs) involved in applied research contracts with Swiss firms on a matching base and for the development of entrepreneurship spirit within the students.
It has to be noted that no direct support to Technology Transfer offices has been provided so far by Public Funding Agencies. Following extensive political debate a sum of 12 millions Swiss Francs (about 10 millions dollars) scheduled for the 2004-2007 period was finally provided in 2005 to the CTI which launched a program aimed at increasing the interest of SMEs to work with local Universities. Several consortiums have been formed with this goal in mind, among them:
- Alliance which groups the public research institutions of the western part of Switzerland. The main idea is to hire technology translators paid by the consortium and hired by the PRO's to meet with local SMEs to understand and translates their technological needs in deliverables by the PROs. At the present time, it is not clear if the SMEs will deploy more collaborations with this approach or if more incentives are needed such as a direct financial support within the SMEs as practiced in Finnland (via Tekes) or the US (SBIR, STTR programs).
Offices of Technology Transfer from Public Research InstitutionsEdit
The main technology transfer office of Switzerland are located within the Universities and the 2 Federal Institutes of Technology.
Technology Transfer SurveysEdit
Survey around technology transfer activities have been developped by the Center for Science and Technology Studies (CEST) for the years 2002 and 2003. Surveys are available on the CEST site (only in German) under the following link. As from 2006, the association of the technology transfer professionals of Switzerland (SwiTT see below) deployed its own survey limited to institutions of research and education. The results are available on www.switt.ch.
- Swiss association of technology transfer (SwiTT) regroups the Swiss technology transfer professionals.
- Club of Swiss Technology Parks and Business Incubators (SwissParks).
- The Swiss Association of Research Managers and Administrators (SARMA).
- The Swiss Chapter of the Pharma-licensing group (SWISS-PLG).
- The Swiss Chapter of the Licensing executives society (LES-CH).
- Euresearch informs about and supports your participation in the European Research and Development Programmes mandated by the State Secretariat for Education and Research (Euresearch).
Collaborations between Public Research Institutions and FirmsEdit
The CTI (see above) provides a framework contract which defines the general terms of collaboration see example (in french/german), a second contract is drawn between the partners directly mainly to clarify the exploitation rights on the results generated (not a single model). IP based on the results belongs to the firm usually with a right for the insitutions to sublicense the technology outside the field. It has to be noted that the CTI will cover the expenses generated within the public institution provided that the private firms will match those support with its own support which can be financial or in the form of equipment or personal attached to the project.