Research, University Approach Aims at Knowledge Dissemination

In the context of the significant event “Patents and Secrets: Technology Transfer in the Life Sciences,” organized by ITTBioMed of Edra and DLA Piper with the support of Lendlease, MIND, and T-Factor, Riccardo Pietrabissa, Rector of the Institute for Advanced Study of Pavia, made a significant contribution to the discussion on technology transfer in Italy. Pietrabissa highlighted the complexity of the technology transfer process within the university context, emphasizing the fundamental difference between the exclusive right conferred by a patent and the approach of universities, which aim not at exclusion but rather at the dissemination of knowledge.

“A patent is in fact a right to exclude, so it is not an authorization to do,” Pietrabissa clarified, adding that, “the university by definition does not exclude anyone.” This perspective underscores the responsibility of universities to ensure that patents serve not just as barriers, but as means to transfer the knowledge and know-how necessary for industrial development.

The Rector also highlighted the bureaucratic and regulatory challenges complicating technology transfer in Italy, contrasting them with the situation in other countries where such processes are more fluid. “We are still under the responsibility of administrators and researchers,” he lamented, reflecting on the difficulties encountered in public-private collaborations and suggesting that Italian regulations often hinder rather than facilitate effective technology transfer.

Furthermore, he discussed the need to clearly distinguish between traditional commercial activities and those related to technology transfer. Pietrabissa emphasized the importance of ensuring that patents are used to support collaborations that effectively promote innovation and the development of valuable products. “The profit generated is not necessarily a mantra we must fight against; profit is the goal of this operation, because without profit no one would develop a product,” he explained, underscoring that economic gain is not antithetical to the educational and research objectives of the university but a necessary component for successful technology transfer.

Concluding his speech, Pietrabissa expressed cautious optimism for the future, driven by the belief that a collaborative and well-regulated approach to technology transfer can overcome current barriers, thus enhancing the ability of Italian universities to significantly contribute to global innovation in the biotechnology sector.