Technology Transfer in the Irish Food Industry: Researcher Perspectives
The public R&D system represents an important part of the framework conditions for carrying out innovation activities and creating commercially applicable knowledge (Drejer and Jørgensen, 2004). It is an important source of information for companies, particularly those that are developing new products (Tijssen, 2004). However, Rubenstein (2003) stated that there has been a perception that public research capacity and results were not being optimally used and thus that potential economic benefits were not entirely realised. It is also suggested that research conducted in the public sector is not efficiently or successfully transferred to industry (Markman et al, 1999) and that it is necessary to understand and improve the means of technology transfer for society to reap the benefits of public science (Geuna and Nesta, 2003). Thus, there is a growing interest, and indeed pressure, among policymakers and academics to ensure informed spending of taxpayers’ money, that useful and relevant research is conducted that represents good “value for money” and that wealth is generated from publicly-funded research (Carr, 1992; Lyall et al., 2004; Mustar et al., 2006). To achieve this requires, amongst other things, the establishment of scientific and technical human capital which is the sum of researchers’ professional network ties and their technical skills and resources (Bozeman and Coreley, 2004). This paper examines the interactions engaged in by researchers from Irish public science providers (public research centres and higher education institutions), with a particular focus on researchers- industry interactions, as well as their skills and resources. To provide context, it firstly briefly outlines the actors involved in conducting publicly funded R&D in Ireland. It then describes the methodology and presents the results of a national survey of publicly funded food researchers focusing on the extent and nature of researcher interactions with other researchers and with industry, the barriers to and motivations for researcher-industry interaction and researcher skills regarding technology transfer. It concludes with a discussion and some policy recommendations.
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