“Yes, we realized far down the meaning of the NETKITE”, said one of the TTO staff “Ayman Odeh”from Palestine once he has been engaged in the mobility scheme to one of the EU partner countries. The mobility scheme is a simple name stands behind a sophisticated Work Package (WP7) which is being led by PAUC within the NETKITE project. The main expected results of this WP are improved interconnections between the territories concerned through the identification of a shared team of facilitators able to convey innovation transfer programmes supporting territorial development.The mobility scheme has two main phases: a) A study visit of 6 of the TTO staff from each MPC to one of the EU partner countries (Italy, France, and Cyprus) for two weeks; b) A training and study visit of the 6 wining young entrepreneurs from each MPC to the same EU countries, but for two months.
Empirically, the WP started with the TTO staff, and in particular, as shown in Figure 1 which illustrates the number of the TTO staff travelled to each EU hosting country in the period April-May 2015.
The TTO visit targeted the following EU hosting institutions which are partners in the NETKITE project and in the corresponding countries, namely:
- Consorzio ARCA, university of Palermo – Italy.
- CEEI Provence – France.
- Diogenes Business Incubator, University of Cyprus – Cyprus.
The hosting EU institutions offered a wide spectrum of facilities and services during the visit to enable the TTO staff maximize their benefit to their home institutions when they are back.
A point of proof, the EU institutions prepared holistic programs of activities that encompassed various activities such as: scientific lectures addressing innovation, technology transfer, and other entrepreneurship critical issues; study visits to main giant research centers, labs and enterprises; working groups’ sessions; Open Innovation platform interaction and brainstorming; and many other beneficial activities.
The main outcomes of the TTO mobility programs can be classified into two main categories:
a) for the TTO home institutions which can be represented by the network the TTO built during their visits and meetings, besides the incubation philosophy in each hosting country experience they learnt. One effective example of a fruitful outcome is that PAUC after the TTO staff visit by its side has prepared a MoU with ARCA to build a new TT path in the incubation and open innovation fields. Furthermore, PAUC developed a concept paper of establishing an incubator to serve entrepreneurs and researchers in the southern part of the West Bank of Palestine.
One of the hosted TTO “Ayoub Kallel” from Tunisia stated that:
“The most useful lessons are the insights on entrepreneurial education in the university’s educational system, and the insights on the incubator. I needed that knowledge.”
Another TTO “Yasmine El Abed” from Egypt said:
” Exploring the Netkite open innovation platform and e learning was great that when going back to Egypt will urge the researchers in my institute to register and interact with each other through this platform and urge them also to invest their knowledge to extract economic value to fill the death valley gap as it was the case with most of the success stories coming out from ARCA incubator.”
b) The outcomes to the hosting institutions and the leading partner of WP which can be represented by the repository of best practices and lessons learnt from the TTO staff visit. This repository has been build out of the evaluation forms which were developed by the leading partner of the WP. The lessons learnt exhibit a vital role in conveying them to the young entrepreneurs coming after the TTO staff to the same three countries.
During this period of time, a bunch of winning young entrepreneurs –as shown in figure 2, who have successfully overcome the steps of technical, financial and market feasibility checks, are moving to the EU partner countries to have the chances to be hosted and seconded at EU laboratories. They will develop both their technical competence and soft skills (such as communication of research, team building and team work dynamics, leadership, project management, business creation and so on).
In conclusion, both target groups are considered ‘innovation ambassadors’ as referred to in the title, facilitating innovation transfer into local development premises. The team of ambassadors from both groups will assist the technology transfer process from the time the mobility started and establish a long lasting network of cooperation among the Mediterranean labs and institutions involved as especially as they are all under the Open Innovation Platform facility which enables them to communicate freely and professionally.