Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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5.6 Technology Intermediaries

The World Bank and many other agencies have recognised that technology intermediation is needed to reduce barriers to technology transfer associated with information, management, technology, and financing (World Bank, 1993; Martinot et al., 1997; Heaton et al., 1994). Research on technology innovation also highlights the role of intermediaries in the innovation process (Dodgson and Bessant, 1996, p.54; see also Section 4.3 on National Systems of Innovation and Technology Infrastructure). Examples of technology intermediaries include specialised government agencies, energy-service companies, non-governmental organisations, university liaison departments, regional technology centres, research and technology organisations, electric power utilities, and cross-national networks. Non-governmental organisations in particular are playing a greater role in technology intermediation; for example, there are many cases where technology intermediation by NGOs played a key role in the success of particular technology transfer efforts for renewable energy (Kozloff and Shobowale, 1994). The functions of technology intermediaries can include:

  • articulation of specific technology needs and selection of appropriate options
  • education, information dissemination, and communication
  • identification of skill and human resource needs
  • selection, training, and development of personnel
  • investment feasibility, appraisal and business plan development
  • development of business and innovation strategies
  • locating key sources of new knowledge
  • building linkages with the external sources of information
  • creating and/or operating new dealer and service networks
  • project management and organisational developmentreferrals
  • training and consulting
  • energy audits
  • matching potential supplier and recipient firms
  • feasibility, evaluation, and packaging of projects for public or private financing
  • translating, compiling, vetting, and endorsing information

    In general, there are seven key questions for policies that promote technology intermediaries:

    1. What are the needs of users?
    2. Who are the suppliers of technology?
    3. What are the needs of technology suppliers?
    4. What is an appropriate role for intermediaries?
    5. What kinds of agency can help bridge the gap between suppliers and users as an intermediary?
    6. What are the mechanisms whereby such intervention can take place?
    7. What can public policy do to enable or assist the process of intermediation?

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