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The successful commercialisation of the outputs from university research often takes years of effort, and helping universities to strengthen their ability to do this often involves strategic relationships that last at least as long. One such relationship began in 2011, when the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills of the UK, supported by the British Consulate in São Paulo, brokered a partnership between Cambridge Enterprise and Inova-Unicamp, the innovation agency responsible for commercialising intellectual property generated by the University of Campinas (Unicamp) in Brazil.

The Global Partnership Project, which lasted three years, promoted innovation and new business creation in Brazil. Inova acted as an exemplar for the commercialisation of university research in Brazil and explored research collaboration opportunities between Brazil and the UK. A parallel project funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also enabled the two partners to investigate barriers to intellectual property commercialisation in Brazil and to run programmes to stimulate commercialisation and innovation, not just for Unicamp but for the benefit of a number of Brazil’s main research universities.

These two projects included visits, lectures, workshops, training and internships delivered partly in Cambridge and partly at Unicamp by experts in technology commercialisation, university-business collaboration and entrepreneurship education. In addition, the programme allowed a number of high-profile Cambridge academics to travel to Unicamp and initiate research collaborations. The topics covered ranged from the strategic view of research collaboration and knowledge commercialisation clusters to hands-on work on specific research projects and technologies with commercial potential.

Inspired by these interactions, Unicamp has implemented new programmes that have changed the way the organisation practises technology transfer and industry-sponsored research.

The whole exchange with Cambridge Enterprise professionals has been of great value for Inova-Unicamp and for myself. I had the opportunity to learn different ways to tackle invention disclosures and how to identify and ask critical questions that enabled me and the rest of the team to assess a given disclosure more precisely. We were introduced to new tools and learned about the importance of using other very well-known methods. I’m confident that the results that the Inova technology transfer unit has been positively impacted by these interactions.

Elias Borges de Athayde Drummond, Technology Transfer Agent, Inova Unicamp

A key strategic outcome of the projects was a review of technology commercialisation practices in Brazil, based on a survey of technology transfer offices, which highlighted a number of potential areas for improvement.


Image: Entrance of the UNICAMP main campus in Campinas, state of São Paulo, Brazil. Photographed on 11.Nov.2005 by Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD via Wikipedia.