Stefania De Zanche (UNIPD): “Arqus can make us realize that we are not alone out there as a university”
|19 Apr 2023
|19 Apr 2023
Stefania de Zanche manages the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) at the University of Padua (UNIPD). Last month, she visited the University of Granada (UGR) to work side by side with her colleagues at the UGR Knowledge Transfer Office (KTO). We had the chance to meet her to learn further about her experience in the Alliance.
In the first years of Arqus you had the chance to meet other colleagues also working on technology transfer. How were these experiences and why do you find it useful to bring together officers from the different Arqus universities?
Well, when the Arqus program began, we had the opportunity to meet the other universities that participated in the Arqus programme, and specifically their TTOs, to discuss best-case practices, and to get to know each other better. This was an important opportunity, even if it wasn’t a specific part of the work program outputs, because it was a great opportunity to see how other countries approach technology transfer and the kind of solutions they have to possibly similar problems. There are a lot of differences of course in each country. And in technology transfer, there are some very specific things we may have to deal with but it was a very good experience to learn what other people are doing and how they do it.
You know the programme “Promotores Tecnológicos” (“Technology Promoters Programme”) in Granada. How do you think it could be implemented, in this case in Padua?
This Erasmus Staff exchange was the perfect opportunity to work with the Knowledge Transfer Office of the University of Granada. I decided to come here because I wanted to know more about the Promotores Tecnologicos program that OTRI is running because I want to do something similar in Padua. But with the occasion, my Spanish colleagues told me “well, maybe we can brainstorm together and try to work out the difficulties and get new ideas on how to redesign their Technology Promoters programme and run a revised edition of the programme in Granada”. So, I am happy that I can also give my contribution to my colleagues here in Granada, as well as bring home some ideas on how to put into place a Technology Promoter programme within my University.
I was impressed by the Granada programme because its objective is to promote cultural change from the inside. I really believe that this is the best way to promote research with a different approach, that is to think ahead on how to prepare it for a potential market application. In the University of Padua it will be an important stimulus to young researchers because I hope we’ll be able to offer more in the programme than the usual lessons: we’re looking to create solid engagement.
What do you find more inspiring about these Mobility experiences?
Well, I think that we have learned very well after the pandemic that we can meet people from the whole world digitally, but it is really not the same thing as meeting someone face to face and taking the time to talk, to get to know them and to know where they are coming from and where they want to go. And even if you know we can reach anyone through social media or LinkedIn, it’s not the same, it’s really not the same type of relationship that you can build. So as soon as I could, I took advantage of this opportunity to come here and to take the time to work on this project and hopefully build a constructive relationship with the University of Granada. Not only in my field but maybe for other purposes as well.
What needs do you think that the Arqus Alliance might help to solve or to overcome in collaboration with other universities?
I think that what Arqus could do is give us a better European perspective and make us realize that we are not alone out there as a university. That our mission is the same for everyone, and we can learn a lot from each other, even if countries may have different budgets, different contexts, different ideas… But I think it’s important to underline what the University’s mission is, and how to do it in the best way to guarantee everyone’s Learning, Innovation, and all of the things that a university does for a city, for the people that are inside it, and for the community in general.
Carlos Sampedro, Director of the Knowledge Transfer Office (KTO) of the University of Granada (OTRI)
The Technology Promoters Programme started at the UGR in 2017, focused on facilitating an interface between the research groups and the KTO and engaging researchers in transfer activities.
After five years, we think that it is the moment to revisit the program and take advantage of the experience and try to improve different aspects. In this way, the visit of Stefania has been a great opportunity to study these aspects and to discuss with her the new opportunities and the point of view of people from different universities. In this context, Arqus provides a unique opportunity for the development of such programs.
Therefore, taking into account all these contributions, we have designed a new Technology Promoters Programme with the main objective of having other collaborators with potential in the different teams and contributing to a cultural change in the research structures through collaboration with other universities. It is also expected that the activity of the OTRI will increase, with a higher quality in the preparation of project proposals, better promotion of technologies and easier negotiations.
The enrolment criteria are mixed, agreed between the centre/institute/department/group/unit of excellence and the KTO. Thus, the promoter acquires a double commitment. The main activities developed are mentoring programmes, training (courses, seminars, soft skills, Open Innovation) and a final work including a real valorisation project proposal. In the short term, one of the results is the increase of the awareness of tech transfer and specific knowledge of direct participants, and the possible invention disclosure of the close circle of the research group. Long-term results range from increased activity in the project environment (team, group, centre, faculty, department…) to collaboration with other companies and business projects, EU grants or Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).