KU Leuven Research & Development (LRD) was established in 1972 as one of the first technology transfer offices in Europe. Over the years, LRD has developed a tradition of collaborating with industry, securing and licensing intellectual property rights, and creating spin-off companies. LRD is dedicated to building bridges between science and industry, and to transferring knowledge and technologies to the marketplace.
The knowledge and technology transfer activities of LRD include:
Collaborating with industry
Companies, both small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and multinationals, often turn to the university to answer part of their R&D needs, instead of performing the whole process themselves. When researchers collaborate with industry, LRD sets up well-balanced collaboration agreements which take into account the interests of all parties involved. In addition to carrying out services or research contracts commissioned by companies or other clients, researchers can also set up cooperative research projects together with companies or other organisations. LRD’s legal service supports researchers in drafting, negotiating and monitoring this broad range of agreements.
Managing intellectual property
LRD helps researchers to protect their intellectual property and devise appropriate strategies for transferring the intellectual property from the university to industry. LRD’s IP officers guide researchers throughout the entire technology transfer process. After an invention is disclosed, IP officers assist researchers in assessing the patentability and market potential of the invention, applying for a patent, finding companies that have the resources to bring the technology to market, and licensing the patented technology.
Creating spin-off companies
Instead of licensing-out an invention to an existing company, the intellectual property can also be the basis for setting up a new start-up business. LRD actively supports researchers who want to create a spin-off company. Typically, spin-off companies are new business ventures that exploit research results, know-how and intellectual property developed within the university. LRD assists researchers during the start-up phase and guides them through the process of translating a business idea into a business plan. Working closely together with LRD, researchers evaluate various markets for their potential and identify external business experts to support the team when management expertise is needed. LRD’s extensive network of local and international investors and business angels can also help researchers to raise sufficient funding.
Stimulating and cultivating knowledge-driven regional development
In close collaboration with the city of Leuven, the province of Vlaams-Brabant, and the Flemish and European authorities, LRD actively supports the development of a favourable climate for knowledge-driven entrepreneurship and innovation. In particular, LRD is an active partner in setting up networking initiatives such as Leuven.Inc, the network for high-tech entrepreneurship which was established in 1999, and technology clusters such as DSP Valley and LSEC, which focus on digital signal processing and IT security respectively. Together with Leuven.Inc, LRD organises specialised practice based training sessions and creates awareness regarding innovation management and entrepreneurship. LRD is involved in planning, setting up and managing incubators, science parks and business centres, which provide state-of-the-art lab and office space for innovative spin-off companies as well as international research-intensive companies.