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Technology transfer professionals from around the world attended the second Research Commercialisation Open Programme organised by Cambridge Enterprise in September.

The world faces huge economic, societal and  environmental challenges. Universities are increasingly aware that, through improving their employees’ technology transfer capability, they can help transform research into solutions for these challenges. Over the last seven years, Cambridge Enterprise has responded to this need by developing and delivering custom programmes for universities globally. It is now also offering the Open Programme, which provides a wonderful opportunity for other universities to access the expertise and experience residing in Cambridge.

For five intensive days our delegates learned about licensing, spinning out new ventures and the delivery of consultancy by University of Cambridge academics. Through presentations, discussions and exercises, we explored commercialisation processes—both in general terms and ‘how we do it in Cambridge’ – as well as tackling a range of specific issues that practitioners face at home.

As with the first edition of the programme, the cohort size was deliberately kept small, with just 16 attendees, so that there was plenty of opportunity to share knowledge and jointly develop solutions for the issues being addressed in their university technology transfer teams. Nevertheless, there was plenty of diversity again, with delegates from Chile, Portugal, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ghana, Malaysia, Philippines, and China.

A key part of the programme is to share the ‘Cambridge experience’, so delegates stayed in University Colleges, enjoyed a traditional formal dinner at St John’s College and went punting along the Backs. Equally important is the opportunity to network with other technology transfer professionals; the programme content sparked wide-ranging discussions which enabled delegates to really understand the nuances of the topics covered.

“The Open Programme provided a wonderful opportunity for me to learn about the research commercialisation and technology transfer processes at Cambridge, but more importantly to talk to other technology transfer professionals from around the world – sharing knowledge and exploring issues that we all experience, in an open and supportive context. My role at the university is changing and I’m taking on increasing levels of responsibility for the technology commercialisation process, so the programme was very timely. I now have access to a community of technology transfer practitioners, including the team at University of Cambridge, that I can turn to if I want a second opinion when I have a tough decision to make.”

Fatimah Ibrahim, Professor, Deputy Director, University of Malaya Centre of Innovation & Commercialization (UMCIC), Malaysia

The course will be running again in September 2019.

Brian Corbett, Alex Smeets and Jessica Ocampos are self-employed consultants and associates of the Cambridge Enterprise International Outreach Programme.