Knowledge Transfer for Universities

Through knowledge transfer, discoveries can find an application in the wider world. There are various ways for universities and research institutions to ensure that knowledge transfer is more than just an afterthought.

Technology transfer concerns transfer of innovative solutions of problems that are protected by different intellectual property rights. Knowledge transfer is a broader term and covers other areas of research, including social sciences, as well as less formal transfer mechanisms.

There are various formal and informal channels through which knowledge may be transferred. Among the most frequently-used formal means of knowledge transfer are:

  • licensing
  • assignments
  • collaboration contracts
  • material transfer agreements
  • sponsored research agreements
  • consultancy agreements
  • franchising and establishment of spin-off and start-up companies

The informal transfer of knowledge is becoming more and more important in the academic environment as the mobility of researchers and students is greatly contributing to the dissemination of knowledge worldwide. Knowledge can also be transferred through publications, teaching, conferences, courses, presentations, meetings and informal exchanges and personal contacts between scientists, academia and industry.

(Image: WIPO)

IP Toolkit for Universities and PRIs: IP Commercialization and Knowledge Transfer

The IP Toolkit is designed to help universities and PRIs with knowledge/technology transfer and IP commercialization. It provides university managers, knowledge transfer officers and researchers with a baseline with which to develop their own entrepreneurial approach to IP management.

  • Model agreements DOC, title goes here
  • Academic intellectual asset map DOC, title goes here
  • Hypothetical case studies DOC, title goes here
(Image: Getty Images/bubaone)

Helpful terms

Get full, in-depth definitions for any of the below terms.

Knowledge transfer is a process that allows research results, discoveries, scientific findings, intellectual property (IP), technology, data and knowhow to flow between different stakeholders.

IP commercialization describes the process through which firms create economic value by converting knowledge, discoveries and inventions into new or significantly improved products and services that satisfy customers’ needs.

IP valuation is the process of identifying and measuring potential benefits and risks of an intangible asset.

Intellectual property licensing is a frequently-used means of exploitation of IP, including in the process of commercialization of research results generated in universities and publically funded research institutions.

An assignment of IP rights involves the transfer of ownership of IP (patent, utility model, trademark, copyright, know-how protected by a trade secret, etc.) from the owner (assignor) to the assignee (physical or legal entity) with permanent effect.

Franchising may be defined as a business arrangement, whereby the goodwill, reputation, technical expertise, trademark and know-how of the franchisor are combined with the investment of the franchisee for the purpose of selling goods or rendering services directly to consumers.

A joint venture is a business entity created by two or more parties pooling their resources with the objective of implementing a common business purpose. It is generally characterized by shared ownership, shared returns and risks and shared governance.

KTOs are usually in charge of managing the transfer of knowledge and technology to industry and of managing IP assets of the university, but their mandate may be broader and cover any interaction or contractual relation with the private sector.

How we can help you

To find out more about any of our activities, please contact us.

(Photo: Getty Images/BrianAJackson)

Legal advice

We provide advisory services to help member states establish or improve their legal framework on knowledge transfer.

(Photo: Getty Images/elenabs)

Capacity building

We conduct training and assist member states to set up and manage professional structures, such as Knowledge Transfer Offices (KTOs).

(Photo: Getty Images/serts)


We develop various free of charge tools, manuals and training materials on knowledge transfer and IP management.