les Nouvelles - June 2006

University Technology Transfer Practices In Switzerland

Françoise Chardonnens

The academic landscape in Switzerland consists of two federal institutes of technology (ETH Zurich and EPFL in Lausanne), ten cantonal universities and seven inter-cantonal universities of applied science.

Historically, university technology transfer first developed within the two federal institutes of technology, which both have had a long tradition of relationships with industry. Licensing activities were pioneered at the EPFL in the late eighties. Later the cantonal universities also engaged in such activities and set up technology transfer offices. This was also the time when the legal framework both at the federal and at the cantonal levels was adapted to facilitate and promote technology transfer from academia to industry. In 2005, a programme sponsored by the federal government was launched to promote technology transfer to SME’s. This programme involves all the Swiss academic institutions and is organized in four consortia, each run by one technology transfer office.

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