Departments’ own innovation agents are an important part of commercialization services
Innovation agents belong to department staff. They are part-time volunteers: advising, encouraging and finding research ideas and innovations for commercialization. Research and Innovation Services train the agents and innovation advisors co-operate closely with them in each school.
Janne Raula, innovation advisor of School of Chemical Engineering is coordinating the agent activities in Aalto University starting from autumn 2017. “Innovation agent activities helped to reveal commercially potential inventions that earlier would have been left unexploited. The researchers, departments and the whole society have all benefitted from this. The pilot was a success and hopefully the activities will become a permanent part of each department’s work”.
The 2016 pilot project KINO (“Kansainvälisen innovaatio-osaamisen kehittäminen korkeakouluissa ja tutkimusorganisaatioissa”) was supported by Tekes and originally run with 10 departments. Now there are already 12 innovation agents (contact information: Inside).
The results of the activity are clearly visible
Already the pilot year 2016 showed a significant improvement to the innovation activity, in numbers as well as in quality. The most crucial performance indicator is the amount of invention disclosures and in 2016 there were a record-breaking 153 inventions reported (+59% when compared to the average in 2013 and 2014).
The best indicator for invention quality is the amount of patent applications, as seen in chart below.
An important result is also the change of culture: commercialization and innovation activities are seen positively. The workshops and numerous meetings with innovation agents acted as a basis for departments and the need to share each department’s success stories was recognized. In addition to this, many researchers learned about the innovation services and the concrete tools, processes and terms of the commercialization work. With the help of the innovation agents, several hundreds of planning and encouraging discussions were held in order to start the innovation activities in 2016.
The activities go on – join the innovation agents!
Research and innovation Services will continue to support innovation agent activities. The key points are to find right kind of agents in as many departments as possible, to bring the agents as a concrete part of innovation services actions and to train the agents.
“We will organize additional training for innovation agents in 2017. The training includes feedback about what has been successful and how the Research and Innovation Services could help the agents to participate even more in the innovation activities”, says coordinator Janne Raula.