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Doing good business

The record of the University of Stavanger (UiS) for innovation and commercialisation is one of the best in the Norwegian higher education sector measured per 100 academic staff.

It has generated 49 business ideas, 16 patent applications, one new company and four licences, according to a status report for 2012 from the Ministry of Education and Research.

Innovation is a priority area at the UiS, reports Per Ramvi, who is its special advisor in this area and chair of the Prekubator technology transfer office (TTO).

That makes it both gratifying and important that the commitment to innovation is yielding such positive results, he adds.

Owned by the UiS, the Iris and Nofima research institutes, Stavanger University Hospital and the Innovation Park Stavanger (Ipark), Prekubator TTO works to convert ideas and research into new products and services.

With one new company and four licence agreements, the UiS is the Norwegian university with the largest number of commercialisations per 100 academic staff.

Prekubator TTO submitted 16 applications for national and international patents in 2011, with the UiS responsible for 10 of them.

In addition to having a presence in various research teams, the office is also contacted by researchers who have come up with a good idea.

It gets about 50 of these every year, of which a third get taken forward and a third of these again turn into something tangible.

“We’d welcome even more proposals, and feel there’s a big potential for developing new companies and licences in the region, says Anne Cathrin Østebø in Prekubator.

Companies established in recent years on the basis of research in Stavanger raised more than NOK 125 million in capital from public and private sources during 2011.

Other value creation, such as increased research related to innovation and access to new products and services, is not included in these figures.

“It’s quite clear that research and innovation pay off,” emphasises Østebø.

Commitment

Technical and science disciplines have so far contributed the largest number of business ideas. But Ramvi says that the public sector, particularly the health and welfare services, are making a growing commitment.

"The ministry, the Research Council of Norway and the EU place a great deal of emphasis on an expanded concept of innovation,” he explains.

Prekubator TTO has existed for a decade, but is not taking things easy. The office will be working in the future to secure even more good ideas.

It is also committed to creating good processes for innovation, securing finance for the best prospects and establishing collaboration between different players.

“We’ve achieved a lot, but intend to accomplish even more,” says Østebø.

Progress for Prekubator TTO

  • Turnover rose from NOK 1 million in 2002 to NOK 10 million in 2011
  • Operated at a loss in 2002, at a profit in 2011
  • Built up a capital account of NOK 8.3 million in 2002-11 which can be used to invest in new innovation projects
  • Collaborated with four research teams in 2002 and 10 in 2011
  • Involved in one innovation programme in 2002, and three in 2011 with a fourth under development
  • All research ideas were secured in 2002 by contacting those responsible. In 2011, it was largely the researchers who got in touch
  • One employee in 2002, 12 employees and consultants in 2011
  • Virtually all the ideas in 2002 came from petroleum-related research, while they divided equally in 2011 between renewable energy, ICT, health, biotechnology, petroleum and food

UiS commercialisation in 2011

  • Subsea Tunnel AS, idea from Ove Tobias Gudmestad and Anatoli Zolotukhin
  • Injection valve, idea from Bernt Ådnøy, licensee Teamtrade AS
  • Key Exchange technology related to data storage and cloud computing, idea from Chunming Rong, licensee General Storage Technology AS (GST)
  • Method for hydrate inhibition 1, idea from Malcolm Kelland, licensee Eco Inhibitor AS
  • Method for hydrate inhibition 2, idea from Malcolm Kelland, licensee Eco Inhibitor AS

Text and photo: Ragnhild Nordahl Næss

Translation: Rolf E Gooderham



 

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Per Ramvi and Anne Cathrin Østebø

Per Ramvi and Anne Cathrin Østebø