Transfer Technology Ideas to Market: Applications for Edupreneurs

Jackie Mania-Singer and Ed Harris


In a previous article, we mentioned that an important aspect of entrepreneurism is transferring technology ideas to the marketplace. In this article, we will explain the notion of technology transfer as well a complementary concept, “disruptive innovations.”

Technology Transfer

Technology transfer is a popular phrase in business and science communities. The notion of technology is not limited to computer technology; rather, it is a broad term that includes products, skills, services, ideas, discoveries, and more. In simple terms, technology transfer is the movement of these services, ideas, and innovations to the general public. For businesses, technology transfer can occur through the movement of products, goods, and services to consumers. For educators, it can occur through, publications, graduates entering the workplace, exchanges at professional meetings, and relationships with industry. As mentioned previously, for educators, our “market” is our “constituents” and includes students, communities, and society as a whole.

We have previously mentioned Odyssey Learning Academy as an example of technology transfer. Specifically, we addressed Odyssey’s open-school idea where students take classes in local business and are taught by and learn alongside local professionals. This partnership not only “moves” the students to the community, but also the exchange of services and relationships built are an important part of the technology transfer process.

A “small” example of Odyssey’s technology transfer in action is their recent tiny house project. Building on their student-centered philosophy, parents and staff at Odyssey supported students’ interest in building by partnering with local builders, tradesmen, and public workshops to build a tiny home. The finished home will be toured around Oklahoma City for publicity of the school and will eventually be auctioned with all proceeds benefitting Odyssey Leadership Academy. This venture has not only provided the students of Odyssey with a real-life learning experience, but has built relationships for Odyssey that will outlast one project.

Technology can add value, simplification, diversification, and productivity to consumers and constituents. However, technology’s value wanes unless it can be transferred to a user who can apply the technology to create a tangible benefit. In both the business and educational world, markets are sometimes disrupted when new technologies and innovations become more valued than the old ones.

Disruptive Innovations

A disruptive innovation is a technology that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. Disruptive innovation is actually a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. Table 1 offers some examples of disruptive innovations.

Using Odyssey’s tiny home project as an example, the real-life learning experience of students building an entire house from the foundation to the roof with experts in the field may be the first step in disrupting the traditional math lessons of lecture and pencil/paper problem solving. What are some examples of “technology transfers” in your school? Are disruptive innovations “good” or “bad?”Using Odyssey’s tiny home project as an example, the real-life learning experience of students building an entire house from the foundation to the roof with experts in the field may be the first step in disrupting the traditional math lessons of lecture and pencil/paper problem solving. What are some examples of “technology transfers” in your school? Are disruptive innovations “good” or “bad?”

2 Comments

  1. melissayarbrough

    Disruptive innovations are certainly good when they improve upon the functions of the existing technology. I do not currently have a school so I cannot identify a particular technology transfer. I would say a common one in today’s high schools is the flipped classroom practice. I think Odyssey’s tiny home project was a great authentic learning activity. I wish this type of integrated and authentic learning were available to all students. This example describes a curriculum that begins with the end in mind and works backwards from the desired outcome to build activities and assessments that are applicable to real life. This creates a rich and truly authentic learning experience that can be transferred to real life work challenges.
    In my educational administration work I found it difficult to get colleagues to visualize what such innovations could look like and how they could work.

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  2. clsnyder-renfro

    1.What are some examples of “technology transfers” in your school?
    In regards to the SMART Board technologies – The original version that includes a projector is quickly being overtaken by the monitor version. Old version has serious lighting issues and bulbs that need to be replace, program updates etc. The new version uses a monitor, can be used with any type of lighting and does not require a $400.00 and up bulb purchase ever so often. The new versions are far more sustainable.
    We have a school garden that is slowly being utilized to transfer a number of technologies. It is not funded so tools, equipment, supplies etc. must be donated or purchased from grants etc. However, this has not stopped the growth and learning opportunities for students. Things just move slower in expediting projects. Of course there is always the weather to consider to. Nonetheless – it is pretty phenomenal.
    Students have also had the opportunity to plan and cater events for our after school enrichment program called PEAK. The skills and knowledge they have acquired are defiantly transferable to industry.
    Our school is an Academy of Entrepreneurial Studies, a model I developed a year ago. It is in the early stages of grow but is having the desired results thus far. A big part of the model includes service learning. The skills and knowledge learned through service encapsulate the entrepreneurial essence for work ethics, attitude, gratitude and empathy. Opportunities have been provided to students through activities and projects during and after the school day. I have written for a number of grants to provide additional resources to complete service projects. The school garden serves as a perfect school based opportunity for service.

    2.Are disruptive innovations “good” or “bad?”
    They are both. Foresight that they might come and preparation for what might happen provides a pathway to success. One must have an entrepreneurial mindset to constantly scan the horizon, take time to make assessments of the environment, reflect, collaboration and brainstorm ways to prepare or make the cutting edge jump is critical. Least you be caught unaware and overtaken.
    Terrifyingly, many universities are not making the move at all or are far behind. They are still trying to sell a product to a customer that used to exist and the market is growing smaller all the time.

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