Technology Transfer and Innovation
The core mission of the TTI unit is the advancement and preservation of technology and innovation. The university’s activities will undoubtedly lead to technologies which further this mission. The TTI unit is responsible for providing a framework for governing the rights and obligations of all role players in relation to the technologies generated. The TTI unit envisages that the product of its research will benefit society. It therefore seeks to ensure that any invention or technology generated in the course of university activities is appropriately protected and commercialized for the benefit of the community. The TTI unit is therefore committed to engaging and co-ordinating the efforts of all role players- inventors, research institutions, society, practitioners etc. in providing the necessary support, particularly in the spheres of intellectual property rights, licensing, the formation of spin-off companies and the funding of these research activities.
Intellectual Property Rights
In the course of their academic work, researchers, students and staff of the university generate intellectual property in the form of inventions, software, audio-visual material, textbooks and other artifacts. The successful commercialization of this intellectual property requires protection as well as an appropriate manner in which to introduce the intellectual property to the business world. The Technology Transfer and Innovation unit (TTI) offers adequate support with regard to the protection and commercialization of intellectual property by co-ordinating the activities amongst different inventors, government departments, research institutions, legal practitioners and other project owners. Support is provided by the TTI in respect of the following activities:
- Providing information on intellectual property rights.
- Finding industrial/business partners.
- Facilitating and overseeing processes pertaining to patent and license.
The TTI unit’s policy with regard to the protection and commercialization of the intellectual property is adequately laid out in the Durban University of Technology : Third Stream Income Policy. The Director: Technology Transfer & Innovation will screen the invention or technology using the criteria defined in the policy. The Director will proceed with the filing of the provisional application. If the intellectual property has been developed in partnership with industrial or other partners, such agreements will be screened in order to determine ownership and filing obligations. A commercialization team will determine the potential route for commercialization and establish if the intellectual property infringes on any existing intellectual property rights. Should the intellectual property or technology be viable for commercialization, the TTI unit will select an appropriate commercialization vehicle and source funding to continue with the development of the intellectual property or technology. The commercialization team may at any point of time decide to terminate its engagement in the development and may also engage with the originators of the intellectual property to transfer the rights to the originators and/or any other party or spin-off company based on the principles of this policy.
A license is a legal document which allows an individual or company (licensee) to use the intellectual property of another individual or company (licensor) in return for remuneration which is usually in the form of royalty payments or an upfront lump sum payment. The license allows the licensor to retain ownership rights of the intellectual property.The advantage of licensing is that the responsibility for manufacturing, selling, distributing and further development of the product can be transferred to the licensee. License agreements are very complex and need to be as comprehensive as possible to protect the rights of both parties. The license agreement should encompass the period of its validity, the market in which licensee can market the product, nature of royalties and sub-licensing provisions. As with intellectual property rights, because of the complexity of these agreements, it is recommended that they are carried out with the assistance of a legal specialist in this field.
Types of technology licenses:
- The majority are for patents, copyrights and a single license may relate to more than one patent.
- Exclusive license is where the licensee receives exclusive rights to develop products.
- Patent commercialization licenses provides the licensee with rights to patent technology.
- Non-exclusive licenses give several licensees and the licensor the right to develop products using the intellectual property.
- This is normally the case where the technology has the potential to benefit the public.
- Commercial evaluation licenses (options) grant a potential licensee the option (for a fee) to negotiate a license within a specific time while the company assesses the commercial potential of the technology.
- Biological materials licenses provides licensee with access to non-patented materials or biological materials.
A license is a transfer of value and royalties and upfront fees are the agreed price of that value. Upfront fees should be high enough if possible to meet the licensors need for short term income. The shorter the life of a product, the lesser the licensor can ask for upfront fees and to a lesser extent royalty. Royalty rates differ depending on the type of product, the industry involved, the stage of development of the product when licensed out, term and exclusivity of license. If the license is based on a patent, the levels of royalties may decrease or the license may even expire at the end of the patent life.
Spin Off Companies
The TTI unit supports and promotes the transfer of knowledge and technology to industry. The creation of spin-off companies has become an important mechanism for the commercialization of university research results. The success of a spin-off company is dependant on a highly motivated team that can ensure the technology transfer from the research group to the spin-off company and scientific expertise technology and products which the spin-off company can build on and capitalize on in a competitive corporate environment. The TTI unit offers support with regard to the setting up of spin-off companies as far as the following are concerned:
- development of a business plan
- protection of the intellectual property
- negotiation process and legal support
According to the DUT Third Stream Income Policy, the management of the spin-off company is appointed in consideration with investors and the parties providing capital investment. There is no obligation to appoint the inventor or originator of the intellectual property in the spin-off. Typically, the inventor or originator remains in his/her position at DUT to continue normal duties and may be contacted to conduct work and/or research for the spin-off. Existing spin-off companies (initiated by staff without DUT consent) can also be acquired to allow the staff the opportunity to legally bring their business activities and consultation work into the university system. If the inventor(s) wants to further develop the intellectual property or exploit commercial applications of the intellectual property, then this can be considered as a separate spin-off company by the university in collaboration with the inventor(s).
The TTI unit will assist in obtaining funding for the development and commercialization of the technology generated at the institution. DUT_COM is a commercial entity initiated by DUT, generating income from percentage of activity profits. This entity may also participate in and contribute funding into one or more funds which invests in commercial activities at DUT. Typically the investment contribution may be made from funds generated from projects. DUT_COM may also initiate specific capital investment funds in collaboration with private equity partners, banks, government organizations, insurance firms in order to raise more funds for investment in DUT_COM activities. Investments may also be made into opportunities or entities locally or internationally for which researchers identified opportunities at conferences or other institutions. Below are some of the government organizations that provide support in this regard.
The National Research Fund
The National Research Fund was established in 1999 to support and promote research through funding, to provide necessary research facilities and for the development of human resources. It seeks to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation in all fields of the natural and social sciences, humanities and technology thus impacting positively on the quality of life in South Africa. This organization is the government’s national agency responsible for promoting and supporting basic and applied research as well as innovation. It provides services and grants to support research and post-graduate training so that South Africa can prosper as a globally competitive country It establishes and maintains strategic partnerships locally and internationally to expand South Africa’s research capabilities and ultimately improve the quality of life for all.
The Technology and Human Resources for Industry (THRIP)
The Technology and Human Resources for Industry (THRIP) Program is a partnership program which challenges companies to match government funding for innovative research and development in South Africa. It is managed by the National Research Fund. The objectives and priorities of THRIP are to ensure that the projects not only result in competitive world class technologies but the growth and development of our nation as all the projects funded by THRIP must also include human resources development. Funding occurs in the following manner:
- Firms and THRIP invest jointly in research projects where project leaders are from academic staff of South African Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s)
- It also matches investment by industry in projects where researchers from science, engineering and technology institutions are trained through the projects.
- It also facilitates technology innovation promotion through the transfer of researchers and students between industrial participants.
Seda Technology Program
The Seda Technology Program (STP) is an organization aligned to the Department of Trade and Industry. It has been formed as a result of the merger between the GODISA programme of the Department of Science and Technology, the National Technology Transfer Centre (NTTC) and the Technology Advisory Centre(TAC) to create a national institution which will be responsible for a broad array of business and technology services and support. The STP was created to provide support to small enterprises as far as technology and business development is concerned. It strives to stimulate economic growth and development through facilitating technological innovation and increasing accessibility to technical support for small enterprises.
Postgraduate Development and Support (PGDS) Directorate
The Postgraduate Development and Support (PGDS) Directorate is a one-stop office that provides support for registered postgraduate students (including staff) to complete their qualifications within the minimum stipulated time. Workshops are organised to assist postgraduate students in compiling their proposals and understanding the research process and writing up of their results. Prof Jordaan has identified the process of Conferment of Status as one of the bottlenecks that slowed down postgraduate registration and throughput. This process has been changed to a system where the student applies directly to the relevant Head of Department for Conferment of Status. The Head of Department, together with a panel of one or more experts (which can be staff members within the Department) studies the application and provides acceptance or rejection. If successful, the student will be allowed to register immediately, while the panel’s decision will be tabled for ratification at the next Faculty Board or Faculty Exco meeting. This, together with changes in the postgraduate registration process, has created an environment which provides the opportunity for students to complete their qualifications within the given time frame. A process that sometimes took more than 18 months to complete can now be done within one week. Three centres have been established to help students with their research. There is the Proofreading/Editing Centre, Statistical Centre and Academic Centre. The Proofreading/Editing Centre assists students with editing of their work (proposals, dissertations, research reports and documents, etc). The Statistical Centre assists students with the statistical analysis of their research data, while the Academic Centre provides generic guidance with identifying a topic, writing a proposal, conducting the research, etc. Consultation sessions can be booked at the PGDS Directorate.
A Forum has been launched for postgraduate students to raise their concerns, alert the Postgraduate Development and Support Directorate on statutory issues, and becoming more involved in postgraduate research at DUT. A committee comprising of students (which includes registered staff members) has been set up to facilitate issues of this forum. A Short Message System for sending text messages to postgraduate students has been set up to provide them with all relevant news and information. The PGDS Directorate is in the process of setting up postgraduate laboratories at Indumiso, Riverside and two or three of the Durban campuses. These laboratories will provide a 24 hour access to computer facilities with internet access, DVD-writers and email. It creates a conducive research environment for postgraduate students.
The award structure
According to the PGDS Office, the period of support for registered BTech, Masters and Doctorate degree students will be based on newly developed guidelines. Masters’ and Doctoral students registering for the first time only pay a registration fee of R100 and an award will be allocated to the student. It is the responsibility of the recipient to refund the full amount should they fail to complete their studies within a specified time period. Other incentives given by PGDS include laptops for supervisors or researchers, international postgraduate student exchange programmes, national and international conference attendance and workload relief. A maximum award of R12 000 will be given via an application to a registered BTech student who are in his/her final year of the qualification, has a sound academic record and are financially reliant on the award to complete his/her BTech. Staff members registered for their BTech will be awarded an amount f R15 000 to pay for an assistant to relief the workload. Masters’ degree students are awarded an amount of R60 000 divided in two terms and a laptop. An amount of R100 000 is given to Doctoral degree students whose proposal has been approved and also includes a laptop.
The mission of the Department of Operations and Quality Management is to provide a quality service to learners at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level through formally accredited programs in the fields of Operations, Production and Quality Management. This department is committed to producing self motivated, independent thinkers and professional graduates in these fields. Manufacturing industries in South Africa play an important role in the South African economy as it employs a large percentage of the labour force. Job opportunities, therefore, are great in this sector. Within the manufacturing sector the greater portion of the workers are engaged in the Production Function which includes specialist fields such as Quality Control, Work Study, Production Planning and Control, Inventory Control and Operations Research. The National Diploma in Operations Management prepares students to enter any of the specialist fields in production or to go directly into supervision of workers and thereafter as Production / Operations Managers. Experiential training is compulsory as every effort is made to expose students to manufacturing and service organizations. The B. Tech in Quality enables specialists in production, commerce, educational and service organizations to become qualified Quality Practitioners. The course is designed to develop innovative and entrepreneurial skills and culminates in an interactive project.
DUT Third Stream Income Policy
This is a policy on the management of commercial and intellectual property rights, commercial activities as well as the application and distribution of associated returns/benefits. The policy is applicable to the Durban University of Technology (DUT) as well as associated legal entities locally or internationally. The policy will run continuously, with provision for a revision every two years in order to evaluate the impact of the policy content. The policy aims to create a framework and vehicles for commercial technology transfer and innovation as well as providing assistance to DUT staff, students and divisions to identify, participate and execute multidisciplinary commercial activities in support of the DUT brand.
Directory of Experts
Links to Support Organisations
Blue IQ Investment Holdings aims to deliver strategic economic infrastructure to catalyse sustainable economic growth and to indirectly contribute to job creation.
Computer Society of South Africa( CSSA)
The Computer Society South Africa [CSSA] focuses its activities, events and publications in five primary areas: ICT policy representing industry practitioners at government level; education and training to elevate level of ICT capability in South Africa; professional development and advancement; community development; and the transformation in ICT.
Development Bank of South Africa
The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) is one of several development finance institutions in South and Southern Africa. Its purpose is to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development by funding physical, social and economic infrastructure. DBSA’s goal is to improve the quality of life of the people of the region.
Department of Science and Technology (DST)
The DST strives toward introducing measures that put science and technology to work to make an impact on growth and development in a sustainable manner in areas that matter to all the people of South Africa.
Department of Economic Development Kwa Zulu Natal
KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development has a strategic mandate to help promote economic development and growth in the province.
Durban University of Technology
DUT is a University of Technology and the first merged Higher Education Institution in South Africa.
Official website of the city of Durban
The KwaZulu Natal ICTE Cluster
The aim of the KZN ICTE Cluster is to bring together all stakeholders involved in ICTE in the province under an umbrella body that will implement strategic projects and improve international competitiveness in the industry.
The National Research Fund
The National Research Fund was established in 1999 to support and promote research through funding, to provide necessary research facilities and for the development of human resources.
Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA)
The Small Enterprise Development Agency (seda) is the Department of Trade and Industry’s agency for supporting small business in South Africa.
DUT Seed Fund
DUT and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) have entered into an agreement that will see amounts of up to R500,000 per project being made available for innovation-oriented projects conducted at DUT. The intention of the DUT TIA Seed Fund is develop preliminary research outputs where initial proof of concept has been demonstrated, in order that they may be commercialized or better positioned to receive next-round innovation funding.
DUT Seed Fund
The Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programmes (THRIP)
This organizations falls under the NRF and aims to boost the South African Industry by supporting research and technological development.