University - Industry Link for the Commercialization of New Technology. The case of IBTech - UNAM
IB Tech was established in 1995 by a group of Mexican academics and entrepreneurs in order to commercialize the technologies developed and patented by the National Autonomous University (UNAM) on treatment of wastewater. During its start-up phase, the company operated within the Incubator System for Technology and Science-based Companies (SIECyT) of the UNAM from which it graduated in 1997 and now operates independently outside the university campus.
IBTech orients its business activity towards the application of technologies and engineering for the control of environmental pollution, including the re-utilization of water and by-products of its treatment, with a sustainable and integrating approach. The company develops every stage required in turnkey projects of treatment plants for industrial, agricultural and municipal wastewater and has developed projects in Mexico, Chile and Argentina. The main technologies used by the enterprise are the product of a line of research that initiated in the UNAM in 1987, initially in cooperation with the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) and the French agency for cooperation IRD. Nowadays, IB Tech has a technical team made up of 14 specialists (engineers, masters and PhDs in engineering),
Over the years UNAM has obtained 6 Mexican patents for the treatment of wastewater as well as a patent in the US and in Canada. The university negotiates non-exclusive licenses for the use of the technology to IB-Tech as well as other engineering-consulting firms (currently three). "From a commercial point of view" Engineer Adalberto Noyola, UNAM researcher as well as entrepreneur from IB Tech, explains "the fact of having protected the technology makes it easier to negotiate a transfer of technology from UNAM to private firms as well as providing a good argument for convincing potential clients to use the technology". The patent, Noyola ads, "gives a clear image of seriousness."
As part of the licensing deal the UNAM also includes three software products for the design of reactors that are protected by copyright.
The case of technologies for the treatment of industrial wastewater developed by UNAM and commercially marketed by companies such as IB Tech can be considered a successful case of university-industry link and of the transfer of technology and commercialization of university R&D results by a private enterprise.
A full write-up of this case study is available in the following document