Technology transfer thrives with standards for service levels

By Li Yang, Reporter

On January 1, 2018, China's first recommended national standard for technology transfer services, "Specification for Technology Transfer Services", which was researched and drafted by the Torch Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the China National Institute of Standardization, was officially launched. This is also another heavy policy in the field of technology transfer work in China, after the State Council issued the National Technology Transfer System Construction Program in September 2017, which first proposed the concept of a national technology transfer system.

For the first time, the standard clarifies concepts and understanding related to technology transfer, defines service specifications and service models, and is of great significance for strengthening institutional construction and personnel management, and guiding technology transfer service providers to standardize their operations and develop self-discipline.

What was the original intent behind the development of the Technology Transfer Services Code? What are some of the design highlights? What kind of guiding role does it play in China's next technology transfer work? This reporter recently interviewed the person in charge of relevant departments of the Torch Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology, as well as some of the heads of technology transfer service agencies and experts and scholars who have been engaged in research in related fields for many years, to answer the above questions.

Technology transfer services overall upward

Pushing for faster industry standardization

Since the birth of China's first batch of technology transfer institutions, the development of the technology transfer service industry in China has gone through more than 30 years. At present, China has fostered more than 2,000 technology transfer institutions covering universities, research institutions, enterprises and other entities, more than 40 regional and industrial technology transfer alliances, more than 30 technology transfer platforms of various types, and more than 200,000 technology transfer practitioners, with a national technology transfer system taking shape initially.

It is worth mentioning that the 453 national technology transfer demonstration institutions cultivated and formed in China have covered universities, scientific research institutions, enterprises and other entities, and are comprehensive and professional, public welfare and market-oriented, with rich experience and distinctive features in technology transfer services, becoming the highest quality resources in the national technology transfer service system and an important force in supporting the development of China's technology transfer service industry.

"In recent years, domestic technology transfer services have shown an overall upward trend of diversification of content and specialization of modes, with the technology transfer service cycle gradually extending to the entire life cycle of technology goods. The technology transfer service involves multiple factors such as market, capital, talent, channels and technology, and the chain is very long. Although the state and relevant localities had previously issued many policies and regulations, but the transformation of results still exists in the link interlocking pain points that are not smooth." Xie Jihua, president of the National Technology Transfer Eastern Center, which has years of experience in technology transfer services, said.

In the opinion of Yan Changchun, director of the China Science and Technology Achievement Evaluation Center (Beijing), "For a long time in the past, China's technology transfer services industry has been fragmented, the overall scale of service providers is small, there are few high-end professional service providers, and there is a shortage of professional talents. At the same time, there are also some chaos, such as non-transparent fees and non-standardized services." Yan Changchun said frankly, "The technology transfer service industry urgently needs industry standards to regulate the workflow and service behavior of service providers and practitioners."

In recent years, some of China's provinces and cities with relatively fast technology transfer development have gradually realized the importance of establishing technology transfer service standards and started to explore the establishment of such standards. 2007 saw the release of the first domestic service standard for the technology transfer industry, "Service Standard for Beijing Technology Transfer Industry". Since then, provinces (autonomous regions) such as Jiangsu, Inner Mongolia and Shandong, as well as cities such as Wuhan and Qingdao, have successively formulated local service standards for technology transfer or fruit transformation.

It is understood that the Torch Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the China National Institute of Standardization participated in the research and drafting of China's first recommended national standards for technology transfer services, including the scope, normative references, terminology and definitions, general requirements, common processes, service evaluation and improvement, the main types of technology transfer services, a total of 12 chapters, highlighting two major features: one is to further clarify the concept of technology transfer. Secondly, it provides for seven types of technology transfer services that are of high social concern and have developed a mature model, including technology development services, technology transfer services, technology services and technical advisory services, technology evaluation services, technology investment and financing services, and information network platform services, and proposes differentiated service content, service requirements and service processes. Among them, technology evaluation services, technology investment and financing services, and information network platform services seek to guide technology transfer services to integrate deeply with Internet technology and financial capital, and to develop in the direction of specialization, marketization and high-end development.

"The standard drafting working group has sorted out the service models and service features of the demonstration institutions, introduced new models, experiences and practices of technology transfer services in the national standard, promoted technology transfer service providers to learn from each other, enhance each other and develop together, and guided technology transfer service providers to carry out professional and high-level technology transfer services." As the standard proposing unit, the Ministry of Science and Technology Torch Center Technology Market Management Division Deputy Director Chen Yan said.

Chen Yan said that the preparation of national standards for technology transfer services is the inheritance and improvement of local standards. "On the one hand, it extends from regulating technology transfer services with regional characteristics to technology transfer services with both regional characteristics and national leadership, and introduces new technology transfer service modes such as technology investment and financing and 'Internet +' technology transfer; on the other hand, it extends from regulating technology transfer services to technology transfer services with both regional characteristics and national leadership. The agency extends to regulate the service practices of different entities such as universities, research institutes, and enterprises with technology transfer functions."

Standard setting is more operational and is well accepted by the industry.

It is worth mentioning that, in the process of formulating the Specifications for Technology Transfer Services, the focus was on improving the operability of national standards for technology transfer services, starting from the aspects of commonality and differentiation. For common technology transfer services, detailed provisions are set out in the General Principles, with unified norms for service personnel, management systems, service contracts, general service processes and other contents, so that technology transfer service personnel can operate easily and target users can understand them at a glance. Differentiated technology transfer services are separately emphasized and refined in the classification of service activities, with service content, service requirements and organization and implementation clarified one by one, so that technology transfer service agencies can carry out service work in accordance with the relevant standards for different types of services according to their own circumstances.

"This greatly reduces service risks and costs, enhances the operability of standards, and improves the overall effectiveness of the technology transfer system," Xie Jihua said.

In the opinion of Wang Lixia, deputy director of the National Public Service Platform for Technology Transfer, the introduction of this standard defines the concept of technology transfer, clarifies the type and scope of technology transfer services, and will be important for promoting the standardized development of technology transfer services, optimizing the structure of China's technology transfer system, accelerating the integration of technology market with capital, talents and other market factors, and stimulating new kinetic energy for economic and social development. Meaning. "Compared to the previous local technology transfer service specifications, the national standard of Technology Transfer Service Specification is more rigorous and concise in concept presentation, clearer in logical relationship, more reasonable in content structure, and covers a broader scope, while also fully reflecting applicability and operability." Wang Lixia said.

The China Science and Technology Achievement Evaluation Center (Beijing) has a team of more than 1,000 high-level experts, with more than 30,000 paid orders in 2017, and for such a third-party technology achievement evaluation agency, the absence of a national standard as a reference was previously considered to be a head-scratching matter. "In the past, there was no standard applicable to the whole field regarding what exactly should be done for the evaluation of scientific and technological achievements and how to achieve scientific, reasonable, objective and fair evaluation results, and the introduction of this standard has made specific specifications on the service content, service requirements, service process, contract points, organization and implementation of technology evaluation, which enables us to conduct business in the future Having rules to follow also ensures that the team conducts business in a standardized manner," Yan Changchun said.

However, in the opinion of Xiao Yudan, an associate researcher at the Institute of Science and Technology Strategy Consulting of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the most significant significance of the introduction of the standard is that the country has undergone an obvious and good change in the means and ways of improving the level of technology transfer services. "Compared to the Management Measures for National Model Technology Transfer Agencies, which was implemented through administrative means 10 years ago, the issuance of the Standard for Technology Transfer Services this time embodies more of the role of the market in carrying out technology transfer from the main market itself, which is more in line with the process and requirements of market maturation."

In addition, "recommended standards are different from national mandatory standards, which are technical documents, and although they do not have the function of enforcement, they are more universal and flexible, which is conducive to playing a guiding role in the industry." Xiao Youdan introduced that, in this sense, as China's first recommended national standard for technology transfer services, which is actually an upgraded version of an industry standard, the degree of recognition within the industry is relatively high.

"The implementation of the new standard needs a process, but also needs the relevant departments of the state to increase the promotion organization of the implementation of the new standard." For the implementation of the standards, Wang Lixia, who has many years of experience in technology transfer services, has new expectations. She believes that firstly, it is necessary to make the majority of enterprises and institutions in the technology transfer industry under the guidance of government departments and industry associations to actively set off and form a wave of learning standards and using standards, and improve the consciousness and initiative of institutions to implement and use standards; secondly, the relevant government departments should link the implementation of standards with the implementation of other related policies of science and technology innovation, so as to form an economic mechanism conducive to the implementation of standards; thirdly, to strengthen the Industry exchanges and practical discussions on the implementation of standards, and constantly promote the refinement of standards, improve and practice the operation of landing.

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