What is Academia and How Does it Relate to the World of Technology and Innovation?

If you’re reading this blog, it’s highly likely that you’re already familiar with Start-Up Nation Finder, the online, free innovation discovery platform of Start-Up Nation Central, which collects and organizes comprehensive information on the Israeli innovation ecosystem, and shows all of this to millions of global visitors seeking to partner with Israeli industry.

In addition to all this, Start-Up Finder now provides access to information about a whole new swathe of Israeli innovation, as represented by academia and their inherent Technology Transfer Organizations (TTOs). The world of the TTO is a somewhat less publicized, but an absolutely vital element in the world of innovation, as well as being an essential part of the economic growth of the world of high-tech. TTOs serve as a bridge between the cutting-edge research conducted within tertiary academic institutions, and the global community of entrepreneurs, investors and industry organizations, all of whom are exceedingly interested in many of these research projects.

By including Academia within Finder, Start-Up Nation Central is offering access to yet another pillar of the Israeli innovation ecosystem. This new section not only broadens and increases accessibility to the Israeli ecosystem, it also creates more opportunities for the users of Finder and expands the services that Start-Up Nation Central is able to offer. Finally, this new section means that academics in search of an infrastructure within which they can place their research, or looking to turn to a TTO now have this information readily available to them.

Turning Theory into Practice

The main role of TTOs is to recruit, market and develop accumulated academic know-how, and turn a patent into a commercial product. As Israel continues to churn out new scientific breakthroughs, TTOs play a critical role in converting new science into continued economic growth, while increasing the revenues of the institutions they represent.

Incorporated by academic research facilities in order to transform theories into reality, TTOs help universities and other academic institutions to streamline the transfer of inventions from lab bench to market. Unsurprisingly, given the unique position of Israel’s innovation ecosystem in the world of technology development, Israel is a leader in this field, managing to generate more revenue from IP sales than any other country in the world, except the US. Furthermore, Israel ranks third in the world for suggesting technologies for commercialization, with approximately 2060 technologies in line to be commercialized, after 3890 in Germany, and 38,000  in the US.

How Does it Work?

The beginning of any kind of innovation is always rooted in the identification of a specific problem. With the Israeli tendency to see a problem as a challenge for which a solution must be created, it’s clear how the tiny country of Israel ranks third as documented above. Following the identification of the problem, next comes the research paper, with a theoretical idea for a solution. It’s at this point that the TTOs enter the scene, reviewing all the applicable research and technologies, and making a decision based on what has the most commercial potential.

From this springs the submission of applications for patents, and then the TTOs begin the process of selling the solution – or at least, the idea of it – to their clients: start-ups, corporates, entrepreneurs, investors. The ways in which the sale proceeds after this varies according to how the licenses are granted and to whom. Sometimes, if the technology itself is acquired, a spin-off company can be created that is dedicated to producing and selling a commercial version of it. Some well-known Israeli spin-off companies include Mobileye, Orcam, ReWalk Robotics, Zebra Medical Vision, and Briefcam. Alternately, if the IP is acquired, a corporate might wish to use a technology for its own personal use, or even add it to their basket of products.

How does this relate to Finder?

The purpose of Start-Up Nation Finder is to map the Israeli innovation system, of which the world of academic research is an integral part. Academia and the field of potential products only realized at the stage of research is highly relevant to early-stage start-ups, particularly those who hope to base their product on an academically researched subject. It is also relevant to more established companies or corporates, who look to the world of academia in the hope of finding a new, additional or improved technology which can further their already-established business.

Finder’s new Academia section maps TTOs, technologies, researchers and success stories, and clearly demonstrates the linkage between companies with Finder profiles, and the academic technologies which correspond. You can filter technologies according to TTOs, categories and tags using the Finder tagging system – a simple, recognized industry language, which was created by combining the efforts of the Start-Up Nation Central data team with the IBM Watson AI engine.

Pushing Academia into Actual Innovation

As a result of the launch of the Academia section of Finder, Start-Up Nation Central will now be able to gain insights into the field, and reflect the performance of the academia-based start-ups within the Finder series reports. Finder will now utilize its own traffic to propel Academia forward within the field of innovation, connecting the academic world to activities of Start-Up Nation Central, and leveraging the technologies within the section by ensuring that they are made available and shown to premium Start-Up Nation Central visitors and delegations.

You can see many success stories of Israeli innovation that began in an academic research lab and ended up in far-flung corporate entities across the globe. Just look in Finder under for companies like Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Intel, Google, Boston Scientific, ICL and many more.

Click here to go to the Academia and TTO section of Start-Up Finder.

Watch a quick guide about Finder’s academia new section 

Lior is the Product Manager of Start-Up Nation Finder, an online, free platform that collects and organizes comprehensive information on the Israeli innovation ecosystem. Lior leads the cross-functional product efforts and sets the product vision and strategy.Prior to joining SNC, Lior worked as a solution engineer at NICE Systems. Lior provided technical consultation and was responsible for the technical delivery of sales process optimization solutions for global companies in the EMEA region.Lior holds a B.A. in computer science and an M.A. cum laude in government, diplomacy, and strategy from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.