Technology Transfer is the process of making skills, knowledge, technologies and methods accessible to a wide range of users who transform them into new products, processes, applications, materials or services within society. At Maastricht University and the Academic Hospital Maastricht, the MVC helps manage the difficult process of Technology Transfer.
The MVC is usually the first point-of-contact for scientists who have come up with a new invention or idea. First we schedule a face-to-face meeting with the scientist to discuss his/her concept. If there is a commercial opportunity and the concept has potential, we will ask the scientist to fill in an Invention Disclosure Form (IDF)
This information is forwarded to one of our business developers, who research the novelty and marketability of this concept. If the results look promising, we will try to find a commercial partner or licensee to further develop the technology or idea. Depending on the concept, starting a new company might be an interesting step. All activities are done in alignment with the scientist..
In 2014, UM and azM began operating under joint Knowledge Right Regulation, which was developed to promote knowledge valorisation. This regulation sets forth a uniform set of rules for both UM and azM about the rights and duties of all parties in relation to knowledge and research results.
Funding for researchers
Scientist who have developed knowledge or inventions with commercial potential can now apply for loans from two new valorisation funds: the Pre-Seed Fund and the Proof-of-Concept (PoC) Fund. Both Funds are part of the South Limburg Valorisation Programme launched in 2013 to help commercialise scientific knowledge. More than €17 million will be invested between 2013-18. In the coming six years, €1.3 will be made available for the Pre-Seed Fund and €1.7 million for the PoC Fund.
UM offers a number of workshops for scientists in intellectual property, entrepreneurship and valorisation.
For upcoming workshops please visit http://valorisationworkshop.nl/ or http://www.mc4e.nl/courses/new-venture-creation/. For a complete overview please have a look at the website of the Maastricht Center For Entrepreneurship.
South Limburg Valorisation Programme
Major investments have been made in the Limburg knowledge economy in recent years. The South Limburg Valorisation Programme promotes the further development, expansion, innovation and acceleration of knowledge economy initiatives.
Led by Maastricht University, the consortium includes the Maastricht Academic Hospital, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, the investment fund LIOF, the Chemelot Campus and the Maastricht Health Campus. The programme has a budget of more than €17 million between 2013-18. The consortium partners and supporting companies and agencies will have access to more than €12.5 million to spend on start-up loans, patents, feasibility studies and the appointment and retention of personnel. The remaining €4.5 million will form a grant from the Ministry of Economic Affairs. More information about the program can be found here.
The Pre-Seed Fund offers personal loans to starting entrepreneurs worth up to €50,000 at an interest rate of 6%. These loans provide the capital to make an initial investment in the company, draw up a business plan, test the market, develop the initial product, organise financing and so on.
The loan is intended for individual entrepreneurs, but can also be granted to two or three people starting a business together. If the initial investment leads to the setup of a company, part of the loan can be converted to shares. In other cases – for example, if no investor can be found – the loan may be wholly or partially written off. For more information, please download the Pre-seed fund flyer (PDF) and contact the MVC.
The PoC Fund offers loans to finance feasibility studies, to test whether an idea or product meets basic technical and scientific requirements. These loans are worth up to €125,000 per feasibility study at an interest rate of 6% and are granted to start-ups, SME entrepreneurs or social enterprises.
The project must involve the valorisation of knowledge and ideas from knowledge institutions. Examples would include an initial prototype of a medical device, a candidate biomarker or drug, or an initial version of a software program. The loans are valid for a period of two years after issue and may be converted to shares. If the concept does not lead to commercialisation within five years of completing the study, if the concept is not technically feasible or if the company goes bankrupt or into liquidation, the loan may be wholly or partially written off. You can apply for a proof-of-concept loan here (PDF).
Knowledge Rights Regulation
As of 1 January 2014, Maastricht University (UM) and the Maastricht academic hospital (azM) have a new, joint Knowledge Rights Regulation. This regulation sets out, for both employees and employer, exactly what their rights and duties are with respect to knowledge and research results. It was developed to promote knowledge valorisation, to which the UM Executive Board and the azM Board of Directors attach great importance, and to ensure that both institutions follow the same rules. The key points are explained below.
The objective of the new regulation is to clarify how knowledge and research results are managed within UM and the azM, and how the associated proceeds are distributed.
The regulation applies to all UM and azM staff (and potentially other parties, such as interns) who, in the course of their work, acquire or develop knowledge that could be commercially exploited.
The new regulation includes a reporting obligation. This means that employees who are approached by a company with a view to exploiting knowledge, or who have discovered or developed something that may be commercially exploited, must report this to their line manager, supervisor or the Maastricht Valorisation Center (MVC) before publishing their finding or making it public in any other way.
Support from the MVC
The MVC examines whether the discovery or development could be patented or exploited, and supports the researchers throughout the process. For instance, the MVC can assist in negotiating intellectual property rights, establishing a limited liability company (B.V.) or releasing the knowledge under licence.
Distribution of proceeds
Any revenue resulting from exploitation of the knowledge (e.g. through licensing a patent to a company) is shared among the researchers, the group to which the researchers belong and the MVC. In other words, two thirds of the proceeds flow back to the researchers and their research! If a B.V. is established, distribution of shares and other relevant issues are organised on a case-by-case basis.
Also read the full Knowledge Rights Regulation for UM and the azM (pdf) and the interviews with the Chief Valorisation Officer Henri Theunissen, Jos Prickaerts about his research on a drug that improves the memory and Piet Eichholtz about GRESB, a commercial research agency assessing investment funds in real estate on sustainabiilty.
For more information, please consult your line manager, supervisor or the MVC (Dr Henri Theunissen, Chief Valorisation Officer, email h.theunissen[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl or phone (06 4876 5405).