Technology transfer is the process of developing practical applications for the results of scientific research. While conceptually the activity has been practised for many years (in ancient times, Archimedes was notable for applying science to practical problems), the present-day volume of research, combined with high-profile failures at Xerox PARC and elsewhere, has led to a focus on the process itself.
Many companies, universities, and governmental organizations now have an "Office of Technology Transfer" dedicated to identifying research results of potential commercial interest, and to developing strategies for how to exploit it. For instance, a research result may be of interest, but patents are normally only issued for practical processes, and so someone, not necessarily the researchers, must come up with a specific practical process that depends on the result. Another consideration is commercial value; for instance, while there are many ways to accomplish nuclear fusion in practice, the ones of commercial interest are those that put out more energy than they take in.
As a result, technology transfer organizations are often multidisciplinary, including scientists, engineers, economists, and marketers.
The dynamics of the technology transfer process has attracted some attention in its own right, and there are several dedicated societies and journals.
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