A number of innovative programs in Germany are developing tools and methods to facilitate knowledge sharing between researchers and companies – and particularly small and medium-sized universities and enterprises (SMEs). For example, researchers at the Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) have developed two online tools – “TechnologieRadar” and “MarktExplorer” – that systematically trawl through research reports, university websites and scientific documents in search of new technologies, fields of application and experts. These tools help companies identify the technologies best-suited to a particular product application as well as discover new applications for existing technologies. What’s more, many universities are hiring “transfer scouts” to help break through the “glass wall” between universities and businesses. These employees have the specific training and academic background needed to communicate the knowledge generated at universities in a way that allows companies to identify the potential it offers for product innovations. These and other efforts are being aided by the “Innovative University” program to foster ideas for knowledge sharing. Until 2027, federal and state governments in Germany will be making up to EUR 550 million available to universities for the program.
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