Proof of Concept processes in UK University Technology Transfer: An Absorptive Capacity Perspective

Rodney McAdam, Maura McAdam, Valerie Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Successful research commercialisation within the university domain is predicated upon basic research being developed into technology that will attract funding, ultimately resulting in entities such as University spin-out companies or licensing arrangements. This development process involves considerable risk and uncertainty and may require substantial resources to fund early stage operations while returns are uncertain. Hence there is a need to explore risk-minimisation approaches relating to proving the potential for development while concurrently allocating resources in an incremental manner. This paper focuses on the development of the Northern Ireland Proof of Concept (PoC) process within a University Science Park Incubator (USI) as a particular approach to addressing these challenges inherent in the United Kingdom University technology transfer. Furthermore, Absorptive Capacity has emerged in the literature as an appropriate theoretical framework or lens for exploring the development and application of new technology. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to explore the PoC process within a USI as a means for improving the commercialisation of University technology transfer using an Absorptive Capacity perspective. A multiple case analysis of PoC applications within a UK university is described. From the findings it emerges that Absorptive Capacity influencing factors such as levels of R&D investment, prior knowledge base and integration of stakeholder and technology planning all impact on PoC outcomes. In addition a number of process improvement areas for PoC are identified in relation to the influencing factors within the Absorptive Capacity framework.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-210
JournalR&D Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2009


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