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Technology Transfer interest

Tunisia features a world-class infrastructure, a very favourable geographical position vis a vis its markets and some of the most progressive government policies in the region. One of the most significant strands of this policy is the “mise a niveau programme”. This is aimed at upgrading and modernising the performance of Tunisian enterprises to the European level. By means of incentives and technical support, companies are being helped to reorganise their structures, change their management and market approaches and their products as efficiently and effectively as the best Europe has to offer. But the “mise a niveau philosophy” is not confined to companies. The whole country is undergoing a thorough modernisation process.

Considering all these facts for the potential biotechnology development, use and transfer, BioProtech aims at supporting the CBS to improve its capacities in bioprocess development such as fermentation as well as all related fields such as technology transfer mechanisms.

Valorisation of results, competencies and heavy equipments through creation of start-ups and innovative companies as well as direct transfer to existing companies is the strategy currently under implementation at the CBS. Start-ups and academic spin-offs are at the core of a complex system that includes universities, research institutions, service providers, medium size companies and big multinational corporations. This is the real competitive asset that permits the growth of focused industrial clusters. The CBS can play a major role in developing such a cluster. The economical valorization of scientific results, the intellectual and industrial propriety protection and the transfer of innovations in entrepreneurial initiatives are one of the most critical aspects. Several actors are involved in this phase: public authorities, universities, scientists, patent experts, technology transfer organisations, science parks, incubators, small companies etc.

In the last 10 years, biotechnology was identified as a priority for growth; the global market showed several examples of regional growth through the creation of local biotech clusters. European universities started to consider biotechnology transfer activities and start-up creation as a valuable asset. In this context, the experience of clusters, science parks and incubators demonstrates that it is necessary to create a positive environment to support the growth of an innovative sector. There is a need for suitable interfaces between pure science structures and the industrial environment which the CBS could fulfil. Such interfaces are at the heart of a complex system based on networks comprising all the actors that compose the value chain. The value network that is the result of such a system is at the basis of the competitiveness of a given territorial system, industrial cluster and given start-ups at least at an initial phase of the cluster development.

One of the objectives of Bioprotech is to Build up the knowledge base for commercialisation of research results by increasing commercialisation potential through innovation, technology transfer and incubation. This activity will enable the CBS to contribute to the local and regional development and to improve the national economic situation via technology transfer activities including creation of spin-offs and start-ups and to further develop the activities of the three already created start-ups incubated in the CBS. The European projects partner together with CBS and local industrial sector, during the kick-off meeting, will map the technological potential and the opportunities to create own companies based on CBS research (human resources, infrastructure, economic situation, local and international partners). During such activity, focused actions will be implemented (e.g. interviews, analysis of the state of the art, SWOT analysis, etc.).

Three two-day training sessions at the CBS regarding the different ways of commercialisation of research results (contract research, licensing, spin-off, sales, cooperation,…) will raise awareness to the researchers and local partners. The training sessions will also be the base for a basic technology transfer guide. BioProtech will define how the incubator supports the development of new technology companies by helping them building credibility, shortening the learning curve, and solving problems faster, and by providing access to entrepreneurial networks. 


Mapping of development and transfer of results and expertise in the Centre of Biotechnology of Sfa, Tunisia (CBS ) in the period 2003-2010

The desire of tunisian authority to see scientific research to participate in the economic and social situation was reflected in a series of measures requiring and encouraging in some ways a return to investment in the form of jobs and innovation. CBS has launched a progressive approach that sought to achieve the goals after a few years without rushing or disrupt the activities of conventional research. In parallel, it was necessary to develop trust relationships and interests with industry and national and international socio-economical sector. This was applied to CBS as an approach that can be summarized as follows:
1 - Establishment of collaborations with industry as part of agreements requiring manufacturers to help identify their problems and their resolutions. In a few years more than 20 agreements were signed and paying industrial projects have emerged. 
2 - The organization of thematic days to drain the industry covering the main activities and competences of CBS.
3 - In collaboration with the Institute of Cooperation of France in Tunisia, a program to improve technical and technological capacities of engineers and technicians from CBS was applied. Several dozen have benefited under this program for consecutive 5 years.
4 - In cooperation with the German Technical Cooperation GTZ, several workshops and meetings were organized to promote training in technology transfer. A draft of a vision and implementation for CBS was proposed in 2010 by international experts of GTZ.
5 - With the Business Center of Sfax, we initiated a sponsorship program for potential start-ups project to avoid putting in place a similar structure in CBS.
6 - The human capacity building and technological upgrading unit by hiring engineers and procurement of a pilot chain for fermentation and bioproduction. This is called « Unit of Valorisation of Research Results » which is actually well equiped with heavy equipments.

7 - Building a nursery specialized in Biotechnology, affiliated to CBS.
8 - The promotion of start-ups. After several difficulties related to delay in construction of the nursery, the remaining two are: Seed (Environmental Biotechnology) and biotech RDP (Diagnosis Kits and Bioproduction).

Mode of operation and sponsorship of projects in incubation
This strategy of exploitation of research results by creating start-up is based on the incubation of ideas and projects to be able to make technical and economic studies in start-up that will take charge of these projects with end users. This task can not be done by researchers in laboratories. CBS should contribute in terms of "Facilities and especially skills" especially in the absence of any financial contribution from the state, as is the case everywhere in Europe and USA. Somehow it replaces this funding, and that is why the nursery must remain attached to the CBS and not the Ministry of Industry.  The idea is that laboratories are used as incubators and research sponsors for projects in the nursery. An atmosphere of trust, responsibility and mutuality should prevail first. When the project moves to step marketing, agreements between the relevant structures should be established for sustainable return to these structures.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 15:24
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