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Tech transfers undergo alterations

Sagging economy doing away with in-house start-ups  PLAY AUDIO

Mar 25,2003
In the midst of an economic slowdown, more research institutes and colleges are transferring technologies to companies rather than establishing start-up firms of their own as they did during the start-up boom years. Hundreds of visitors crowded the Korea Institute of Science and Technology in northern Seoul on March 18. They were attending an explanatory session on technology transfer by a consortium formed to handle technology transfer in metropolitan Seoul. The technology institute authority said the session attracted a record number of attendants compared with scores of visitors in the last three events. “A few years ago, we might have considered commercializing the technology by starting our own business, but we decided to transfer technologies instead with difficulties in the business environment,” said a researcher who participated in the event. “Many researchers have hopes they will earn hundreds of million won in profits by transferring advanced technologies.” “Before, we had to look around for technologies that researchers were willing to transfer, but this time researchers applied for transfer of 40 different technologies already,” said Sin Jun-hun, an official at the technology institute. “We just had to pick good ones.” Among the speakers at the event were Kwon Yong-moo, who gave a presentation on the use of three-dimensional graphics to create virtual reality of cultural properties, and Kim Seo-yong, who lectured on sound convectors, which convert sound to heat. A number of companies requested consultations and seven companies submitted a letter of intention for technology transfer. Few companies were interested in technology transfer last year. According to the Korea Technology Transfer Center, it handled 161 cases of technology transfers and mediated commercialization last year. This is an increase of 49 percent from 108 in 2001. The transfer center expects 190 cases of such transfers and mediation this year. However, researchers and universities are less willing to start their own tech firms. The Korea Institute of Science and Technology said the number of businesses set up by its researchers totaled 10 in 2000 and dropped to three in 2001. There was none last year. Universities are more than willing to transfer their technologies. A foundation for collaboration between school and industry at the Seoul National University obtained 28-patented technologies for transfer from professors at the university. Lee Kwang-woong, a life science professor, signed a contract with a biotechnology start-up on the transfer of a technology that controls DNA manifestation. Mr. Lee is entitled to a royalty of 1 percent of sales based on the technology for three years after commercialization. Jeong Myeong-hi, vice dean of the university’s medical school, is waiting to sign an agreement on the transfer of technology that enables to measure damage on DNA. “The factulty at Seoul National University developed many technologies, but these technologies have been unused due to lack of commercialization routes,” said Hong Kuk-sun, a material engineering professor at the school. “There needs to be an advanced system that can take an accurate appraisal of technology in order to reduce uncertainties and increase technology transfer,” said Cho Hyun-dae, a senior researcher at the Science and Technology Policy Institute. by Shim Jae-woo


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