Transfer and its barriers

The next edition of the TT Actual discussion platform aimed to name the obstacles that stand in the way of supporting the transfer of the results of scientific activities into practice. The transferors chose a thorny topic in a survey, and on May 20, 20 of them joined the online discussion.

3000 meters of hurdles

There are barriers at the level of the research organization, but especially at the researchers themselves. We may call them the boundaries of the discussion we had. From a variety of opinions we choose:

There is still a big gap between industry and academia, there is a lack of a common language and often a will to understand, on both sides.“ The participants also described as low the awareness of the benefits of cooperation with the application sphere.

The participants also agreed that from the point of view of scientists, the way of evaluating their work can be perceived as a barrier. If it lacks an award for the application part, ie the transfer part, then the question is why they should devote their time to applications.

Every scientist has a different relationship to applications. One is only interested in pure science and does not care what will happen with the outcome, for the other one application is of little interest, but there are also those who want to make their result work and benefit from it. The aim of the transfer should be to help those who are interested in applying the results. The academy could offer these people support and conditions to show what they can do.“

Among the barriers present, they also included an orientation towards difficult-to-apply research, a lack of scientists’ confidence in the ability of transferors or the lack of interest of some colleagues to identify an industrially usable outcome.

Motivation for 20%

In the academic community, however, one barrier resonates with a significant predominance. Motivation of researchers for cooperation on transfer, which in its breadth includes a lot of individual smaller barriers that deserve even deeper examination. But there came relatively clear message out of it:

  • Most scientists are driven by personal curiosity, and concentration allows them to achieve truly excellent results. Among them, it is necessary to look for those who are still interested in the practical context (estimated at a maximum of 20%). It makes sense to work with them, motivational tools should be prepared for them. The rest are not interested and we can lure them with the most positive example
  • Those who feel responsible to the society and care about benefiting it feel frustrated on many fronts (honor to exceptions) – they need to be rewarded for their efforts, the evaluation system does not take into account the time spent on the application, as the time invested has a negative impact for evaluation. They would also apreciate a compliment from the director and an emphasis on success, similar to achieving a prestigious publication.

I am glad that so many people are joining knowledge transfer and attracting other newcomers, despite the existing barriers.“ Analyst CeTTAV, Jakub Hruška however thinks, that the transfer of knowledge from the point of view of researchers seems to be a complex and uncertain activity. „Transfer staff, who have decided to help scientists and lack support, often feel the same way. It is sad to see the leadership of a number of academic institutions, but also of companies, which still perceive the transfer of knowledge as a necessary evil rather than a need and mission, and usually support it only formally. TZT activities are often perceived as an unnecessary burden, and they should be and are a natural part of the entire scientific research process. However, I am optimistic and I believe, as well as one of the participants in the meeting announcing “where there is a will, there is a way”, that this situation is turning for the better, which can be seen in the steps of the current leadership off CAS.“

Three in one – scientist, transferor, businessman

But let’s go back to the discussion and the topic that we should not forget. The second barrier discussed was how to aquire an expert transferor, who should be respected on both sides. „Even the best scientist will find it difficult to go to the fair and hunt down customers and negotiate business with them. Here we need the type of “sales” person who can turn off academic speach.

The participants also made an apt characteristics. „The person involved in the transfer is supposed to be able to orient in scientists area, be in contact with them. Know what they docand what problems they solve. Go with them to popularization events, know the abilities of groups and know what they are working on. They must understand relationships and see connections. Be present at the meetings, gain experience and take it into account.“

Where can I find colleagues who speak the languages of both parties, the scientific and business ones, who will be able to understand the differences and understand each other? What personal and professional equipment should they have? How to train them and, last but not least, how to motivate them? Many questions are still waiting to be answered.

Sophisticatedly and openly

More that two-hour exchange of views commented Lenka Scholzová, CETTAV leader, who also moderated the meeting: „I appreciate that the discussion was open, cultivated and avoided frustration, even though it addressed the really deep roots of obstacles to the effective transfer of knowledge and technology. The topics that have opened up are already familiar to me, I have heard them from various parties many times. Therefore, I would like the support the transfer in the environment of the CAS to be based on the real foundations of a long-term concept and strategy, to take into account the needs of real people involved in transfer, and not to slip into political declarations and formal reporting. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this will work.“

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