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Strategic Partnerships for Universities & Research Organisations. Dr John Turner Managing Director Flinders Technologies Pty Ltd Strategic Partnerships for Universities and R&D Orgs. Significant at (1) national level & (2) enterprise level.

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Strategic Partnerships for Universities & Research Organisations

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Strategic Partnershipsfor Universities & Research Organisations

Dr John Turner

Managing Director

Flinders Technologies Pty Ltd

Strategic Partnerships for Universities and R&D Orgs.Significant at (1) national level & (2) enterprise level

However, an OECD (1994) study found :

“ Innovation performance depends not on how specific institutions perform (firms, R&D organizations, universities etc) but how they interact with each other……..”

First, the ‘national’ view :

We know Universities and R&D Organizations are sources of potentially valuable intellectual property and professional expertise

Many different models that promote IP Creation, Innovation & Commercialization : they all bring essential elements together

  • University linked organizations (e.g. AUTM in USA, KCA in Australia)

  • E.U. Innovation Relay Centers

  • Business Incubation Centers

  • Malaysia Tech. Development Corp. (targeted grant schemes)

  • Singapore Tech. Infrastructure & Innovation Investment

  • Philippines T.A.P.I.

  • Thailand National Science & Tech. Development Agency

  • China Innovation Center (Founded by CyberCity Holdings Ltd)

    + 15 Uni. based Science Parks

  • Economic Regions (e.g. Route 128; Silicon Valley) This list is not complete


WIPO undertook a study into supporting Innovation Promotion Centers to assist developing countries

  • IPC designed to :

    • bring together disconnected innovation components

    • stimulate & promote inventive and innovative activities

    • provide information, advice & assistance

    • manage seed capital investment fund

    • add value to IP-based assets and business


IPC Clients

SMEs,inventors, ‘Projects’

Regional Innovation Promotion Centers

Universities, R&D expertise

Attorneys, Accountants, Business Consultants, International business, Management Training, Industry Assoc’s

Innovation Promotion Center

Project & Funds Manager

Innovation Investment Funds

(several industry-specific funds possible)


Awareness Raising

Various investors :

Banks, Venture Capital, Pension Funds, Business Angels, Specialist Technology Corporations, etc

Project Assessment

Business plans

Business Plan Implementation

Office support for ‘Start-ups’ co-located with the IPCs

Diag. 1

Report on research commercialisation performance of Australian universities & research organisations has been released

Published Sept 2002 ISBN 0 95818 000 8

National Survey of Research Commercialisation, Year 2000

Australian Research Council


The study looked at performance comparisons (on a national basis) with Canada and the USA (for which data were available).

In my view, there are weaknesses in the study, but it provides a starting point for strategic assessments and initiatives at the national level.

Some results are on the following slides

Biological Science & Biotech.

Physical, Chem. & Earth Sci.

Maths, Information & Coms Sci

Social, Behavioral & Economic Sci.

Humanities & Creative Arts

Engineering & Environmental Sci.

Health & Clinical Sci.


Licences – distribution by originating area of research

p35 National Survey of Research Commercialisation 2000

Topic 5

The Role of Universities & R&D Organizations In the Innovation Cycle



(data removed – file too large to e-mail)







My conclusion : performance is ‘mixed’ – better success if we strategically combined key elements

  • Relevant and cooperative R&D base

  • Viable inventions and SME’s

  • Business incubation facilities

  • Experienced commercial & technical expertise

  • Financial base of ‘risk’ capital for investment

  • Supportive Government policies, programs & tax structures

  • Enthusiastic and committed community

  • Overall, less fragmentation & greater critical mass of scarce key resources : easier said than done !

Strategic Partnerships for Universities and R&D Orgs.Significant at (1) national level & (2) enterprise level

First the ‘national’ view

Second, the enterprise view – our experience :

Prior to the establishment of the company Flinders Technologies, Flinders University had only made $200 in royalty payments in 20 years.

Several attempts at commercializing IP had cost the University money and had not been successful.

The Vice Chancellor at the time (Prof. Keith Hancock) was an economist. Broadly speaking, he reasoned it was better to have a share in something successful than 100% of nothing. Thus, he agreed to a joint venture partnership with a Venture Capital company.

Started as a joint venture company in 1987

Enterprise Investments Ltd

Venture Capital Company

Flinders University


South Australia


July 198750%50%

January 1995100%0%

FlindersTechnologies Pty Ltd


To optimise the promotion and value of IP-based assets and the benefits from commercialization

Flinders University

Shareholder Expectations

Enterprise Investments Ltd

  • R&D funds

  • Inventor rewards

  • ‘Untied’ funds (Dividends)

  • Cost-savings

  • Linkages with ‘industry’

  • Support for staff consulting

  • Capital gains

  • Dividends

  • ‘Star’ reputation

Managing relationships can at times be difficult

Formal & informal relationships with shareholder

Flinders Technologies Pty Ltd

  • Shareholder Agreement

  • Technology Transfer Agreement

  • Agreed basis for Inventor rewards

  • Policy for IP management in university

  • ‘Assistance’ to university

Relations with the university are complex

Patent &Trade Mark Attorneys

Business contacts:


Marketers, Finance


Accountants &

Financial Advisers

Professional peer groups



Scientific & Technical consultants

Alliances & Networks Throughout the World

Professional networks help us to achieve our

Technology Commercialization goals


Circles of Influence

Research Groups


Some of our strategies for optimising outcomes from IP commercialization

  • Rigorous appraisal of commercial viability

  • Add Value to the Project

    - Technical value adding (eg technical feasibility)

    - Commercial value adding ( eg patenting)

  • Reduce Apparent Risk for Investors

    - Substantiate technical viability (eg 3rd party verification)

    - Show commercial diligence (eg verification of IP, market)

  • ‘Seed capital’ funds are important

    - Enable value to be added & risk reduced

    - Help avoid premature deal

  • Harmonise Technical and Commercial Strategies

    - regular meetings with researchers : agreement on goals

    - secure IP

    - beware of compromising IP

Ions by



Clinical Diagnostic

Flinders Technologies Pty LtdSome of our projects

Flinders Technologies Pty Ltd:Track-record

  • Average IRR 74% per annum for over 16 years

  • $21+ mil benefits to shareholder & researchers

  • Assets : several million $ (& off balance sheet )

  • Successes

    (eg FTA ‘DNA processing’; Ions by enzymes; New sunscreen; YourAmigo Pty Ltd )

  • Emerging successes

    (eg Flinders MediTech Pty Ltd & medical training devices; Re-Time Glasses & re-setting the biol. clock; Disease Profiling & new DNA process; Neugenesis Inc & recombinant DNA technology; MediMolecular Pty Ltd & new generation diagnostics)

Summary : Strategic PartnershipsSuccessful IP creation, innovation & commercialization

Thanks forListening Again!

  • National level of innovation & economic performance is related to level of interaction between the key organisations

  • Stimulation of a national innovation system can be achieved through several different models, but a central feature is that strategic partnerships are formed as a result

  • At the enterprise level it’s difficult, if not impossible, to ‘go it alone’

  • Better to form strategic partnerships (even if on an ‘as needs’ basis) and to share in the greater level of success and value created

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