Technology Transfer Offices in the Diffusion of Transformative Innovation: Rethinking Roles, Resources, and Capabilities

Susana Borrás, Francesco Gerli*, Rebecca Cenzato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) serve as intermediaries supporting the commercialization of new technologies in the market, with the aim of enhancing economic competitiveness. Recently, there has been a growing recognition of innovation's role in addressing societal challenges, referred to as transformative innovation. In this context, TTOs are expanding their scope and mission, tasked with acting as intermediaries aligning societal needs—beyond mere market demands—with potentially transformative technological solutions.

This paper empirically explores how TTOs interpret this new expanded role and examines as well the organizational resources and capabilities they mobilize to enact that role. We compare two TTOs that have recently been involved in projects related to the diffusion of transformative innovation. Our empirical findings reveal a disconnect between the prescribed expanded role of TTOs and their actual interpretation of that role. Additionally, TTOs lack the flexible mandates necessary for engaging in transformative innovation diffusion and the expertise to assess societal needs and impacts. They also face challenges in collaborating and co-creating with unfamiliar social actors. Rethinking the roles, resources, and capabilities of TTOs can help address this misalignment operationally.
Original languageEnglish
Article number123157
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: 28 December 2023.


  • Innovation diffusion
  • Technology transfer offices
  • Capabilities
  • Resources
  • Social impact
  • Transformative innovation

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