Do we need to stimulate people to innovate, to behave entrepreneurial? It’s a valuable question to ask. Let’s look at it from a positive perspective, because the ability -even the need- to innovate is deeply rooted in mankind. Our constant urge to question the status quo, to discover beyond the horizon, to deepen our understanding and knowledge, it’s already there. The art in capturing that value is simply to get out of the way of the innovators, to remove all barriers limiting the potential value created by top scientists and engineers.
Thinking outside the box
Major scientific leaps are often made in extreme and high-tech environments, areas where ingenuity and ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ are crucial to make progress. However, technology transfer examples can be found virtually across every scientific and industrial area: from pharmaceutical and medical devices to alternative energy solutions, computing, transport, robotics, aerospace and many more. Huge technological breakthroughs are made by bright minds fueled by R&D money. These investments in top technological developments deliver amazing results, provide scientific insights and expand the so-called ‘body of knowledge’. And there’s a much bigger potential, let’s call it a challenge, linked to these developments.
How can the broad society benefit from all the knowledge created in these companies and universities? Luckily, the entrepreneurs are there to help! Amazing people, start-ups and innovators that see the opportunities are constantly striving to build cool value propositions.
Removing the technology transfer barriers
Hydrohm, for example, uses life support systems from space programs to create toilets that reduce water usage. Magics Technologies develops chip technology that can also be used to clean up nuclear disaster sites like the Fukushima reactor. Formula-1 race car technology is frequently transferred to normal cars, and just recently drug development methodologies created through fundamental academic research helped create the COVID-19 vaccines. These examples and so many others show the immense potential of technology transfer, using innovation beyond its initial goal. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But like most things in life, it’s not that easy.
There are many hurdles and barriers that block the flow of knowledge and value, the flow from initial technology to commercial or adjacent applications. While the benefits are clear and examples are everywhere, the process of transferring technology into something that is useful for other industries, does need some help. Providing that help is exactly what technology transfer initiatives and open innovation are all about, and also why Verhaert is so enthusiastic and thrilled about supporting it. Through various incubation programs, we provide funding, knowledge and support for companies that want to implement space technology in a product or service that will be used on earth.
Within any industry there are technologies that could provide significant competitive advantages in others, so why not have a look? Discover our incubation and technology transfer programs.