Considering IP in exploitation of public research results

Public research is the activity carried out by publicly-funded research centres. These can be considered institutions, universities or enterprises, whose activity is primarily funded with public resources, hereinafter referred to as public research organisations (PROs).

The flow of knowledge and technology between public research and business can be achieved through the exploitation of research results[1], which can, inter alia:

  • generate additional revenues for PROs;
  • promote open innovation;
  • increase access to and sharing of research data and publications;
  • engender possibilities for collaboration in research and teaching;
  • raise the PRO profile and get publicity;
  • broaden the job market for students.

An effective exploitation of the research results would entail proper management of intellectual property rights (IPR). In order to do so, PROs should develop an intellectual property (IP) policy, wherein to set principles and clear rules regarding in particular the disclosure of new ideas with potential commercial interest, the ownership of research results, record keeping, and so forth. Likewise, the IP policy should foster the identification and protection of IP (where appropriate), in line with the strategy and mission of the PRO and with a view to maximising socio-economic benefits.

In order to promote commercialisation and transfer of knowledge, PROs should also take into account the following factors:

  • the monitoring of IP protection and knowledge transfer activities,
  • student and faculty mobility[2],
  • the development of entrepreneurial culture and associated skills for students and PROs staff, and
  • a strengthened interaction with the private sector, i.e. public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Besides the commercialisation channels, which undoubtedly are forms of knowledge spill-over, other knowledge transfer channels that are recognised as crucial in stimulating innovation are:

  • publishing
  • conferencing and networking
  • consortium agreements
  • personnel mobility
  • standards

Therefore, through direct commercialisation channels and via public/private partnership, the dissemination and transfer to the market of the generated knowledge can be ensured, with the objective of creating products and services to enhance social welfare.

As an EU-funded project of the European Commission, the European IPR Helpdesk provides free-of-charge, qualified support on your possible questions regarding IP specificities in research projects as well as all other IP matters, which can be to your interest[3].

[1] A fundamental role in the exploitation of research results is certainly played by Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) within research centres and the IP departments in companies.
[2] Industry hiring, secondments, student placement, and the like.
[3] For further information on the topic, please see the dedicated materials of the European IPR Helpdesk, available in our library, and register to our webinars, such as the webinar on IP in EU-funded Projects/Horizon 2020.

European IPR Helpdesk

Formulation of reactive inks: reactive inkjet printing of polyurethane foams

Novel fabrication processes are currently subject to a variety of research fields. Digital printing can be used to produce well-known materials in an innovative fashion. Therefore, the Fraunhofer IGB focuses its research on inkjet printing as a manufacturing tool to individualize production processes.

Combining printing and commonly known polyurethane chemistry has a high potential for future manufacturing. Currently, we are focusing on the production of polyurethane foams using two-component reactive inkjet printing. Here, two separate inks containing the reactive components are separately printed in a layer-by-layer procedure. The “polyol” ink contains a polyethylene glycol (PEG) as the main carrier combined with a glycerol ethoxylate “star-PEG” as the crosslinker. Furthermore, a foam stabilizing surfactant, catalysts, and water as the chemical blowing agent are present in the “polyol” ink. The second ink contains the pure isocyanate compound. Here, a hexamethylene diisocyanate-based ink is used to obtain porous polyurethane structures. We found that our ink formulations were jettable using a 10 pL Fujifilm Dimatix printhead. Furthermore, microliter droplets that were placed on top of each other showed exothermic heat evolution as well as the corresponding polyurethane and polyurea band in FT-IR spectra. This confirms that the PU-reaction takes place even without mechanical mixing prior to the application.[1]

[1] Further information on the topic of reactive inkjet printing can be found in: . Mater. Chem. C, 2017,5, 6738-6744

Achim Weber
Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB

Mobility and mentoring: increasing employment of young people in the European chemical industry

EYCN representatives (Fernando Gomollón-Bel, Diana Ferreira, Alice Soldá, Jelena Lazić and David Conceição) at the “Mobility and Mentoring” project conference in Lisbon in September 2017

“Mobility is a key value for young chemists who want to find a job in the European chemical industry and might be indispensable for increasing the global economy.” With these words, Dr. Roland Leroux, President of FECCIA, opened the ‘Mobility and Mentoring’ conference in Lisbon. The ‘Mobility and Mentoring’ platform aims to increase and support the mobility of young workers in the EU through mentoring. Yves Verschueren, President of the ECEG believes that this project is the perfect example of the importance of European cooperation as a tool to improve international competitiveness.

According to Eurostat Statistics (2014), young workers have been severely hit since the start of the economic crisis in 2008. In the first quarter of 2013, youth unemployment reached an all-time peak of 23.6% across the EU-28. The situation was even worse in southern countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, where young unemployment reached 57.3%, 54.9%, 41.8%, and 34.8%, respectively. In parallel, labour mobility of young workers across the EU-28 is particularly low; the European Commission found that in 2015, only 3.7% of employees work in an EU country different from their own. Aside from language, a hypothesised factor impacting on mobility of youngsters across the EU-28 is the lack of knowledge of the respective working, social, and cultural conditions in other countries.

Project partners (ECEG, FECCIA and industriAll) have embarked on this challenging ‘Mobility and Mentoring’ project funded by the European Commission and led by Dr. Andreas Bücker. The European Young Chemists’ Network (EYCN), with more than 35,000 members in 22 countries, aligned itself with the project, which aims to encourage young workers mobility in the search for job opportunities across Europe. This is achieved through an online platform that offers users qualified support through a dedicated mentor network, supported by both employees and employers. The Mobility Mentoring Portal (MMP) will be available from December 1st 2017. MMP will allow young chemists looking for opportunities to connect with a mentor in the destination country. All mentors across Europe received training through a series of workshops, where they were trained to support mentees throughout the process of moving to a different country.

The EYCN has engaged in collaboration with this project since its creation in 2016. We are grateful to the coordinators for inviting us to Lisbon, and we will also help to promote the MMP to help young chemists in their professional journeys.

Alice Soldá, Chair of the EYCN
Fernando Gomollón-Bel, Advisor of the EYCN