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Technology Transfer: Turning Ideas Into Reality


Technology transfer is the movement of data, designs, inventions, materials, software, technical knowledge or trade secrets from one organisation to another or from one purpose to another. The technology transfer process is guided by the policies, procedures and values of each organisation involved in the process.

Technology Transfer photo of outer space


Introduction to technology transfer

Thinking beyond the technical to more strategic factors of technology transfer provides a broader view of how organisations can achieve faster and more meaningful progress in developing new technologies. Specific goals may include improving efficiency, product design or processes, decreasing cost, or improving market reach. There are many opportunities to implement technology in any given industry. As discussed in Chapter 2, technology transfers involve technology transfer from the R&D stage through to application. There are different definitions of technology transfer, but the main distinction is between the physical (things, processes) and the intellectual (ideas, knowledge) dimension of technology transfer.


Types of technology transfer

There are two categories of technology transfer available: Research and development is a mode of transferring knowledge between people or organisations in order to generate a better understanding, explanation or validation of existing knowledge. is a mode of transferring knowledge between people or organisations in order to generate a better understanding, explanation or validation of existing knowledge. Production and application is a mode of transferring knowledge between organisations and their customers in order to develop new products and services which can be applied to a broader market and thereby expand the market.


Process in technology transfer

While the term technology transfer refers to the movement of information or ideas from one place to another, the technical process associated with this movement can be viewed as a series of stages which occur on a time scale of months and years. It begins with a trade secrets problem. This is where one organisation has a product with superior capability to the one possessed by another. The main reason for the superiority of the product is a trade secret, which the other organisation wants to protect. The trade secret is intangible and usually cannot be copied or stolen. A solution to the problem is needed, but not likely to be found without the assistance of one of the company’s trade secrets.


How can a society benefit from a successful technology transfer?

In today’s global economic climate, there is a need to assist in the transfer of technology to all societies. An important part of that is having competent people with the requisite skills who are also able to translate ideas into reality. A large number of companies have been concentrating on manufacturing products that are for external use and for which there is no market. In the past, there have been attempts to transfer technology to South Africa, but few of these have been successful because the programmes were not well designed and driven. For example, the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) attempted to transfer specialist equipment to industry.



Conclusion: Companies in emerging countries have the ability to contribute at least as much as some of the existing industries to the world economy, but how much do they contribute? And how do they contribute and benefit?

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