OECD’s examination of Space Technology Transfers and their Commercialisation [Nov/2021]
In its study on “Space technology transfers and their commercialisation”, the OECD investigates the transfers from publicly funded space programmes to different sectors of the economy in Europe, Asia and North America and highlights that the processes through which these transfers occur are often still not well understood.
The following three channels for technology transfers to successfully commercialise are identified by the paper:
- Collaborative research between government-led programmes with academia and private firms (often including firm co-investment)
- Licensing or patents based on government intellectual property given to commercial partners
- Informal channels including labour mobility, facility sharing, conferences, scientific publications, etc.
To further develop these channels, space agencies are using different regulatory, financial, and policy mechanisms, such as: licensing strategies, R&D programmes, start-up spaces, infrastructure projects, or networking platforms. All this has led to over 2000 trackable commercial products based on NASA technology transfers. Similarly, in Europe, 60% of the surveyed companies confirmed that participating in ESA programmes resulted in product innovation for new markets and over 50% of them saw a diversification of their target markets and clients.
Yet, the OECD characterizes multiple barriers to effectively measure the socio-economic impacts of these technology transfers, including long time lags between investment and outcomes, unreliable/ inflated data, limited institutional memory, and issues with the attribution of measured outcomes. In order to overcome such issues in the future, the OECD recommends improving data gathering at space agency level, alongside comparability of data, and technology transfer long-term outcome tracking. Lastly, a deeper understanding of the technology transfer process and its impact is advised.
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 Barjak, Franz & Bill, Marc & Samuel, Olga. (2015). Evaluation of the existing Swiss institutional R&D funding instruments for the implementation of the space-related measures.