A new co-operative project between four Danish universities and the Danish industry foundation, Industriens Fond, has been set up to make research more commercially relevant.
One of the partners involved is Danish Technical University (DTU) and as a first step, each of the four universities will open an independent research unit.
The unit at DTU will be called DTU Fotonik and it will concentrate its focus on areas such as light sources, lasers, sensors and communications technology.
To ensure that the units specifically focus on the commercial aspects, it will be run outside the normal university regime.
“The research units will be decentralised in each university and concern themselves with specific technical fields which have been identified as having a high marketable potential, and where research is done on a high international level,” said Mads Lebech, head of Industriens Fond.
Experience a prerequisite
It is also important that, in addition to having significant technical expertise in the particular area, the staff have experience of entrepreneurship and running a company, and have good networks and market knowledge within the relevant field.
“In this way, we combine a strong technological side, an interesting market, and a team of clever people who can bring research successfully into the marketplace in the form of, for example, a new spin-out company,” Lebech added.
Right people, right place
Putting together a clever team is the key to success, according to Jes Broeng, a professor at DTU Fotonik. For the last year, he has been a guest researcher at UC Berkeley in California and he is now going to head up project Open Entreprenership.
“People and relationships are important when you want to build bridges between science and business. The right people have to be involved when you want to convert research to commercial success,” Broeng said.
Four universities are involved in the project to start with, but if it is a success, the idea can be expanded to include other Danish research institutions.
Open Entrepreneurship has been given a grant of 35 million kroner by Industriens Fond and the project will be subject to continuous evaluation over the coming year.