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Reinventing the way R&D is Conducted: Making a Difference Through Technology Transfer

Throughout the world, researchers are working toward scientific breakthroughs that can help us build a better tomorrow.

Rabbi Professor Daniel Hershkowitz.

At Bar-Ilan University, many of our discoveries bring new insight into health and disease, diagnostics and treatment, generating and storing clean energy, communications and infrastructure networks, nanotechnology and advanced materials, and microelectronics and machine intelligence.

At the university’s Prototyping Lab, our researchers transform their discoveries into real world applications, producing prototype technologies ready for commercialization in specific markets. The lab encourages innovation and technology transfer and aims to generate revenue from its intellectual property for the further growth of the university’s degree programs and research projects. The Prototyping Lab is a nation-building endeavor, which produces concrete benefits for all of humanity, and serves as a model of technology transfer for universities around the world.

Many scientific discoveries with tremendous commercial potential never leave the research lab. Researchers often understand great market potential for their inventions. But since their scientific work is complete, there are no scientific grants to take the idea forward, and no new results to publish in research journals, the researchers canʼt afford to dedicate the resources and time necessary to commercialize the idea; and the industrial sector does not buy ideas. So between lab and market there stretches a death-valley of technology transfer.

The Prototyping Lab is a virtual laboratory, a rigorous program guiding the commercialization of projects from researchers in all disciplines at Bar-Ilan University. Behind each commercialization project is a thorough market assessment. The researcher proposing the project conducts this assessment with assistance from the lab. Together they determine which market could benefit from the discovery, and what must be shown to the companies who could potentially commercialize the technology. They also determine what must be demonstrated to prospective industrial partners in order to persuade them to invest in the project.

Roadmap to Investors 

For each project, the researcher, together with the Prototyping Lab team, defines a roadmap detailing how to proceed from basic, to commercial potential, to potential investors. On average, the timeline from initial contact with the lab to actual prototype is two years.

Projects proposed to the Prototyping Lab are reviewed by a professional committee comprised of experts from the R&D areas salient for each project. Criteria for acceptance include its promise in addressing real world needs, strong market potential, and effective representation of the university’s excellence in research through commercialization. If accepted, the committee monitors the project from start to finish, making sure that it meets all its objectives on schedule. To date, Bar-Ilan University is the only university in Israel that has a framework like the Prototyping Lab. Other universities do, in principle, encourage technology transfer and support it in practical ways; but at no other Israeli university is there such an organized framework with such a level of guidance and accountability. Bar-Ilan is reinventing the way R&D is conducted in order to achieve scientific excellence in our rapidly changing world, and to make a difference in the lives of people everywhere.

Rabbi Professor Daniel Hershkowitz is the President of the Bar-Ilan University and former Minister of Science and Technology of the State of Israel. Hershkowitz will deliver his keynote address, “From the Innovative Scientist to the Innovative Society” on March 31, at the think.BDPST Conference.