Approaches for increasing the commercial utilization of research results – lessons learned from past funding policy experiences (WTT-Lehren)

Funding policies can help researchers to recognize the commercial potential of their research work at an early stage and to successfully utilize it. So far, no one has even taken stock of the extensive breadth of funding programs in Germany. This alone has been a valid incentive for initiating the study “Approaches for increasing the commercial utilization of research results – lessons learned from past funding policy experiences”. In this study, experts from the Fraunhofer Center Leipzig analyzed all nationwide individual project funding measures over the past ten years: national public funding programs, institute-specific initiatives funded by major non-university research institutions and also the as yet not externally evaluated program ForMaT (“Forschung für den Markt im Team”, team market research). They identified two gaps in the current funding environment, one of which was support during the early brainstorming stage, where researchers generate some first utilization ideas and select a suitable team for their realization. The experts also concluded that there is a lack of offers with regard to the validation of utilization projects beyond the “Excellence” programs. In a second project stage, the researchers from Leipzig highlighted key factors for the commercial success of research work. The analysis not only focused on the impact of collaboration partners, professional knowledge communication and financing instruments but also on transfer intermediaries and on the personality of key team members. For the study, the Fraunhofer experts evaluated the standard scientific literature on knowledge and technology transfer, existing program evaluations, program guidelines and project reports and added their own data to these. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funded the study and then made action recommendations and suggested design options for funding policy-makers and innovators with a research background. The final report was published by the Fraunhofer Verlag to coincide with the Leipzig Book Fair, and also as an eBook by Fraunhofer-Publica.

Commissioned by: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Team: Dr. Harald Lehmann, Velina Schmitz, Dr. Steffen Preissler, Annamaria Riemer, Inga Döbel, Jens Rockel, Julian Kehrer, Anzhela Preissler

Duration: November 2014 to October 2015