Effective and efficient University-Industry Linkage is a necessary condition for knowledge and technology transfer from university to the industry. University graduates and research outputs have to be absorbed by the industry. The industry is also a source of finance for university research activities and a source of information for quality assurance so that graduates with a high level of knowledge and skills, as required by every industry, can be produced. The outcomes of research undertaken in universities have to be transferred to the industry integrated with the products and services of the industry and impact the living
standard of the society.
Mandates and Responsibilities of the Office
- Establishing formal relationships with Industries and communities;
- Identifying and prioritizing researchable issues of development (adaptive research);
- Planning, developing and executing the establishment of incubation centers in consultation with relevant units;
- Playing active role in attracting market for rendering adaptive research services, in collaboration with relevant units;
- Planning and developing policies on Intellectual Property Rights in collaboration with relevant institutions;
- Soliciting fund for proposal development related to adaptive research and technology transfer;
- Arranging for commercialization or marketing of startups;
- Following up on the establishment of technological and non-technological Innovation Incubation Centers;
- Liaising with existing innovation incubation centers;
- Acquiring technologies and facilitating technology testing and value adding;
- Demonstrating and popularize technologies;
- Coordinating and facilitating the development of policies and overseeing the implementation of Intellectual Property Rights;
- Collaborating with the relevant College/Faculty Associate Deans and the respective Department/Program Units in executing the above activities.
In strengthening the linkage with the industry and transferring technology to the community, the Office undertakes the following major functions:
- Strengthen the linkage of the University with the industry for knowledge sharing and technology transfer;
- Cultivate innovation culture organizing innovation consultative meetings with partners in the industry;
- Carry out periodic innovation competitions and host tenants into the its Technology Business Incubation Center (TBIC);
- Run entrepreneurship development programs to improve the business and commercialization skill of its incubatees/tenants;
- Administer the incubation of technologies in its TBIC and expedite technology transfer to the industry;
- Support the commercialization of startups graduated from the TBIC;
- Undertake joint or industry-sponsored adaptive researches directed to the needs of the industry;
- Support and facilitate industry-tailored graduate programs;
- Manage consultancy and training services fitted to the needs of the industry;
- Facilitate intellectual property (IP) right services for legal protection of tenants’ patent right in the incubation;
- Coordinate internship of students and externship of academic staff as well as promote the mobility and engagement of staff from the industry; and
- Manage the stakeholder engagement of the private, governmental and/or non-governmental organizations and industries, which have concern and relation with the University.
Approaches of Industry Linkage and Technology Transfer by AAU
Addis Ababa University through its university-industry linkage and technology transfer office pursues and encourages industry linkage and technology transfer using both formal and informal channels.
I. Formal Channels
In countries like Ethiopia, where the culture of indigenous technology development and utilization is low and most industries are traditional trade based, formal university-industry linkage and technology transfer channels have to be pursued aggressively. In the formal channels, the University can initiate and work through the linkage for effective knowledge and technology transfer. The formal university-industry linkage and technology transfer channels AAU pursues are:
- University-Industry Cooperative Research,
- Industry-Sponsored Research Projects,
- Patent Licensing,
- Consultancy Services Agreement between University and Industry,
- Using Science and Technology Parks and Technology Business Incubation centers,
- Industrial Internship
a) Establishment of University-affiliated Enterprises (University-Industry Cooperative Research)
University and industry can cooperate and undertake research together on improving the product quality, production process, service quality, new product development, etc. for the company based on agreements between them. In such arrangements, the research is performed by professionals from both the University and the industry. The research fund can come from government funding agencies and/or the industry. AAU realizes the effectiveness of this channel in Ethiopia’s present developmental level works on the following:
- Investigating and proposing mitigation of the limitations in all stakeholders; the industry, the government and the university to work on University-Industry cooperative research which is very rarely carried out at the moment.
- Enhancing the transformation of the knowledge-based economy through utilization of knowledge and technology generated from universities.
b) Industry-Sponsored Research Projects
In this type of technology transfer channel, industry problems are brought to the University with research fund so that the university faculty and students undertake research to solve the problems. The research deliverables and goals are set in the agreement. Such arrangements are non-existent due to the reasons mentioned in the university-industry cooperative research.
c) Patent Licensing
Research outputs from universities which can be commercialized are patented by the university to secure patent right. Then the university can formally transfer the right and collect the royalty to use the technology integrating it into process, products and services by the industry. In Addis Ababa University, patents resulting from inventions from any research undertaken by faculty and students using University resources belong to the University. There are a number of research outputs from faculties and students of Addis Ababa University, which are patented locally. Legal framework on the basis of which the patent can be licensed and rules and regulations and procedures of the intellectual property administration is on being worked out.
d) Consultancy Services Agreement between University and Industry
The university and industry can enter into agreements on consultancy services to be provided by the university to the industry at different phases of new technology acquisition and utilization by the industry. The consultancy service can be during design, construction (manufacturing), testing, operation and maintenance, etc. In Addis Ababa University, various colleges and institutes are working with the industry. Short-term training, construction supervision, design verification, etc. are common channels used to transfer knowledge. The university has clear consultancy service arrangements and is the most effective and widely sought-after channel at the moment.
e) Industrial Internship
University students are required to work in an industry as part of their requirement for graduation in some programs and countries. During this time, the students get the opportunity to see real industry problems and come back to their university with the problems as their graduation project work. These research projects can lead to solutions for the industrial problems. The students can also suggest new ideas on processes and product quality improvement during their stay in the industry. Industrial internship can be both during undergraduate and postgraduate study programs. Students join companies working on their research areas and can suggest significant improvement in the process, product and/or service of their host company.
Most engineering and medical sciences programs of AAU do have a minimum of one semester industrial internship programs as part of their undergraduate degree program curricula. Continuous assessment and improvement of the effectiveness of the industrial internship and the expansion of the program to all other relevant programs is the direction.
f) Science and Technology Parks and Technology Business Incubation
Universities and governments establish science and technology parks and technology incubators for various objectives; out of which fostering technology transfer and knowledge-based small enterprise creation and nurturing are some. For Addis Ababa University, commercialization of its research outputs and transferring the technology to the industry and impacting on the living standard of the society is the main objective.
Addis Ababa University is working towards the establishment of the first-ever Technology Business Incubation and Science and Technology Park. Experience sharing from best practices, bench-marking, and establishment document preparation, consultation with stakeholders are underway.
II. Informal Channels
There are also informal technology transfer channels widely used in technologically advanced countries, which include professional conferences, faculty personal contacts and publications.
a) Professional Conferences
In developed and fast-developing countries, there are hundreds of national and international professional conferences per year during which new technological findings by students and professors are presented and discussed.
Industries closely follow and sponsor such conferences for three reasons. One, they can get the trend of technology to direct their internal research and public domain knowledge, patent to be licensed, etc. which may lead to improvement of their processes, products and services. Second, they use the opportunity to recruit graduates who have researched and have some solution for their existing problems and future direction. Third, they use the opportunity to have an informal discussion with professors who are leading centers of excellence in areas of their interest. On the other hand universities encouraged such conferences because the research outputs can be commercialized, graduates can get employment opportunities, professors can interact with their peers, getting comments on their works, etc.
Addis Ababa University understands the need to strengthen this channel for technology transfer and hence encourages and sponsors professional conferences organized in the country, sponsors and supports student and faculty participation in professional conferences, both local and international.
b) Faculty Personal Contacts
The industry can invite professors working in the area of their interest for occasional discussions, lectures, or regular consultations. The faculty can also serve the company as a regular consultant for the company in their area of expertise area. This modus operandi is practiced by AAU faculty and the industry. AAU works towards formalizing such interactions in order to support the faculty better.
New findings of research and new ideas are usually published in professional journals, conference proceedings and other mediums. Knowledge-based industries closely follow such literature for new ideas and technologies as input to their product and service improvement. AAU supports and finances publication and dissemination of professional conference proceedings, professional journals, etc.