With USI Transfer in 2021, the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) and its affiliated institutions registered 40 new research contracts and 150 new agreements about technology transfer and 8 new patent applications filed. USI Transfer is USI’s new strategic unit whose mission is to foster the accessibility and transfer of fundamental research results developed at the University to industry.
Università della Svizzera italiana actively promotes innovation, corporate relations, technology, and knowledge transfer. Since 2018, its commitment in this area has been developed and implemented thanks to a dedicated Technology Transfer Office (TTO) established within the Research Service. The TTO operates at the interface between the University and industry in support of technology transfer, focusing in particular on the protection and promotion of intellectual property generated at the University, the negotiation of collaboration agreements with industry, and the support of new business ventures ("spin-offs").
Over the years, USI has concluded several licensing agreements regarding its discoveries, transferring the work carried out by its researchers with six academic spin-offs. These concrete success stories see basic research transformed into innovation: Humabs Biomed SA (spin-off from the IRB-affiliated institute), Algo4U (spin-off of the former Institute of Computational Science), Fabula AI (which has since been acquired by Twitter), MV Biotherapeutics SA (from the IRB-affiliated institute), BigOmics Analytics SA (from the IOR and IRB-affiliated institutes), and Oncosence (joint spin-off from the IOR-affiliated institute). The fruit of USI’s collaboration with companies active in the region emerges especially from the figures for new Innosuisse projects, with CHF 2.5 million in 2020 and 25 approved projects starting in 2019 involving four faculties and 12 external partners.
In contributing to innovation and local development, the University promotes entrepreneurship by supporting especially startup projects under development with the activities of the USI Startup Centre, established in 2004 and currently located at the East Campus in Viganello.
As a further step, in 2021, USI fostered innovation and enhanced collaborations with companies through the creation of a new Pro-Rectorate for Innovation and Corporate Relations. As part of this initiative, the USI Transfer strategic unit is launched, of which the TTO is an active part. USI Transfer’s mission is to encourage academia-industry interactions, make the University’s excellence and expertise available to business and society, and ensure that the results of fundamental research developed at USI are accessible and can be translated into innovation. In this way, USI, with its affiliated Institutes (Institute for Research in Biomedicine - IRB, Institute of Oncology Research - IOR, IDSIA USI-SUPSI, and Istituto ricerche solari Aldo e Cele Daccò di Locarno - IRSOL), contributes to strengthening the competitiveness of companies, Swiss companies first and foremost.
The strengthening of the University’s activities and commitment to the sector is expressed in its many innovative initiatives, its involvement in the Regional Innovation System of the Canton of Ticino coordinated by the AGIRE Foundation, and the successful activities in the area of technology and knowledge transfer. In 2021, the analysis of the main indicators used by the Swiss University recorded an increase in the number of research agreements (+40), of technology transfer contracts (+150) and of inventions evaluated (+13), of which 8 have been filed as patent applications. In addition, USI actively promotes intellectual property by managing a patent portfolio with more than 50 active families to date.
The USI Transfer section that allows direct industry-USI contact is hosted in the new innovation area of the USI website and is available by visiting www.usi.ch. firstname.lastname@example.org