Interview with Julián Cabrera, director of the UPM-Clarke Chair, Modet & Co
Industrial and Intellectual Property is a fundamental element in the economy
Julián Cabrera is, in addition to Professor of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Director of the UPM-Clarke Chair, Modet & Co. This collaboration, which began in 2010, promotes technology transfer agreements between the university and the company. In a meeting with him at the offices of Clarke, Modet & Co España, he helped us to better understand the field of Industrial and Intellectual Property in the environment of universities.
1. You are the Director of oTRI or, in other words, the Office of Transfer of Research Results, what role does OTRI play with respect to the university’s research and transfer mission?
The Office of Transfer of Research Results at any university, and more at a Polytechnic University, can play a fundamental role, especially in the task of transferring research results from the university to society. The UPM OTRI addresses the various phases required for the transfer:
- Helps identify protectable results.
- Advice to the researcher and management of the protection process.
- Early marketing orientation.
2. Innovation, Intellectual Property and University Training, three concepts closely linked in the UPM-Clarke Chair, Modet & Co. Under a prism of a professional training, how important and strong is the union between the two?
This chair has allowed to strengthen and enhance the relationship between the two, promoting a climate of trust very solid in all the areas of collaboration that we currently have. On the other hand, having a top-level partner in Industrial and Intellectual Property issues such as Clarke, Modet & Co, greatly facilitates the development of the chair’s activities.
3. What prompted you to sign a training agreement with Clarke, Modet & Co?
When I arrived at the Vice-Rectorate of Research, the chair was already underway, but I imagine that the main reason was to have a collaborative framework that would allow to promote training actions related to Technology Transfer and Property To effectively protect the knowledge generated by teachers and researchers.
4. What benefits does this type of activity bring to Universities?
The collaborative framework established by the university-company chairs at the Polytechnic University of Madrid is designed to be able to establish a constant relationship in the medium term with companies. This allows the development of activities of common interest to the parties to go beyond what would be a specific Convention for the realization of a particular project. In particular, training activities, scholarships, awards, dissemination, research promotion, etc. that benefit the university but also benefit companies can be supported through the chairs. In this regard, it should not be forgotten that the activities of the Chair are defined jointly by the Joint Management Committee.
5. Did I believe that collaboration agreements, such as this chair, increase the incentive among university students to make better studies, thesis, projects…?
From the moment when scholarships and prizes can be provided for the activities of the students, the motivation is undoubted. In addition, students who participate in the activities of the professorships know that it can be a good opportunity to make themselves known in companies that can become future employers.
6. Another academic year begins and new first-year students begin to take their seats… In your experience, are there particular characteristics that define the entrepreneur of the present?
I do not dare to give a recipe in this regard because, moreover, students throughout their training undergo a remarkable transformation in terms of the skills they acquire (if all goes well, of course). But what I do think is essential among other features is to have a great capacity to search for and process the vast amount of information that is now available, as well as having a willingness to innovate and pursue an improvement in the existing elements and processes.
7. In addition to the entrepreneur, there is the figure of the researcher… can you tell us what the differences are between one profile and another?
The first thing I want to say is that they are not exclusionary profiles. As for the figure of the researcher, in my opinion, it is characterized by possessing a curiosity that leads him to address challenges in his area of knowledge and an innate creativity, necessary to propose novel solutions.
The problem that sometimes arises is that usually the results are still somewhat far from being transferable to society in the form of services or products, not usually the researcher especially interested in those tasks. However, if the research profile is complemented by the entrepreneurial character, the transfer of research is greatly favored.
8. A student of yours has completed a doctoral thesis that he finds excellent, of honor. Do you immediately think about registering it?
One of the activities that have been being promoted since the OTRI of the UPM for years, and now also through the UPM-Clarke Chair, Modet & Co, is precisely to transmit to researchers that they consider the process of protecting results from the the first moment the investigation is initiated. Therefore, if the research work has had results likely to be protected, they would surely have already been adequately protected before the presentation of the thesis.
9. Which university degrees generate the most doctoral thesis records once approved? Or do we fine-tune and talk better about areas?
Let’s talk about areas. I pass you a chart with the results of 2013 in terms of patents that may be more representative.
As you will see, Energy and Environment has been the most active followed by Electronics, Construction technology and materials and industrial technology and production. The area of ICT and Medicine, biology and biotechnology would follow, closing the group, transport-related technologies.
10. The Chair not only organizes conferences and talks but also awards, such as the Doctoral Thesis. What are the eligibility requirements and which prize the winner wins?
The Prize is aimed at phdthese authors who have been read and defended during the period from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2013, at the different Universities of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries, both public and private.
It will be evaluated those works that, beyond their technical character, and regardless of their technological field, stand out for the proper management in their protection through property figures and their exploitation and successful transfer to the market.
The prize will consist of a cash contribution of 2,000 euros, work in Industrial and Intellectual Property services and assistance in the promotion and dissemination of development valued at another 2000 euros.
11. Industrial and Intellectual Property, what does it mean to you? what are the advantages for today’s economy to bet on innovation and development?
In a globalized world, Industrial and Intellectual Property is a fundamental element in the development of economic activity. Betting on innovation and development is essential to be able to position themselves in such a competitive environment and offer differentiated products and services with added value. In this sense, Industrial and Intellectual Property is also essential to protect this much-needed activity.
12. How does a university promote Industrial and Intellectual Property?
In the case of UPM, the key player is the Research Results Transfer Office of the Vice-Chancellor of Research. From the OTRI, the protection process is managed in its various phases: advice to researchers, identification of technologies and protectable developments, management of the protection process, and transfer and marketing.
13. Dr. Mónica Alandete-Saez, Director of Research and Development at PIPRA participated last December as speaker in one of the colloquium talks organized by the chair. He talked about Technology Transfer, one of his specialties. Since your activity is mainly focused on the US and you work in Spain, what conclusions did you get from your intervention? Do you think culture is definitive for investment in transfer?
Dr. Scully. Monica Alandete-Saez spoke of the activity developed by Pipra at the University of UCDavis. I was struck by two aspects:
- on the one hand, the resources available to them to manage the transfer process;
- on the other hand, the large number of companies in the sector that had been created and located in California and the relationship established between Pipra and them.
In this sense, I see that we still have a way to go, both in enhancing the management structures of PII in the university, and of the development of business sectors in Spain that are decidedly committed to innovation.
And indeed, I fully agree that the culture of entrepreneurship has a greater investment in the transfer.