Bilateral Technology Transfer using the Internet

Hari Srinivas
Case Study Series E-074. April 2015.

I. Introduction

Changing international economic scenarios have seen a drastic shift of investment flows from advanced countries to developing countries. Such a scenario has been brought about by two main factors:

  1. Liberalization of decades of socialistic practices (both political and economic) on the part of developing countries. This has effectively helped open up their economies to previously shunned external investment, as well as create greater opportunities in a global level playing field for their industries and professionals.
  2. A growing sense of hollowing-out on the part of advanced countries, where rising costs related to production, labour, transportation, communication etc. has prompted them to move out of their home countries to emerging economies.

Several other sub-factors, such as the breaking of traditional subcontracting links that existed between large corporations and small/medium enterprises, erosion of the R&D base for SMEs that was usually provided by large corporations, excess liquid capital with financial institutions etc. have also been responsible.

This increasing shift of the global industrial enterprises towards emerging economies has self-reinforcing advantages for each other. On the part of advanced economies, these include reduced production and other costs, highly trained local professionals, larger market base for their products. SMEs have also been able to regain their R&D linkages with research institutions and firms located in emerging economies.

For the emerging economies, this has meant access to a quantum leap in financial resources available for development and production, better technologies, investment in essential/critical sectors such as power, transportation and infrastructure etc.

This trend is well known and widely discussed in the current media and literature. However, one critical support system that has emerged as a result of this globalization is that of information. Sharing and dissemination of information on transfer of technologies between small and medium enterprises in Japan and other developing countries has been an important aspect of improving bilateral relations and accelerating the process of technology-based investments and upgradation.

During the early 80s, the author was involved in the setting up of three bilateral networks between Japan and India, Venezuela and Ghana, The respective embassies in Tokyo and a number of Japanese institutions contributed to the setting up of the networks. Exprerience from setting up these networks were drawn on to develop this write-up. The networks set up were:

  • Japan-India Technology Network (JITNet)
  • Japan-Venezuela Network (JVNet)
  • Japan-South Africa Network (JASANet)

II. Rationale for JITNet, JVNet and JASANet

The whole range efforts behind the development of JITNet, JVNet, JASANet can be categorized into two parts: Information Collection and Information Search and Dissemination.

Information collection has been effected through two main sources -

  • Technology suppliers, including manufacturers, R&D institutions, information providers (e.g. UNIDO), licensers, technology opportunities (e.g. sales, distributions, joint ventures, etc. of products, know-how and services).
  • Publishers of technology information, including catalogues, technology newsletters, academic papers, patent information, other business media etc.

Information search and dissemination has involved five distinct aspects: Intermediaries, means of dissemination, translation, technology exhibitions and financing.

  • Intermediaries of international technology transfer, such as technology consultants, brokers, patent layers, coordinators/promoters.
  • Means of dissemination, such as the printed media, electronic media and other means.
  • Translation of technology information from Japanese to English and vice-versa (including Spanish in the case of JVNet).
  • Technology exhibitions, both domestic and international.
  • Financing sources such as government agencies, consultation fees, donations, etc.

III. JITNet, JVNet and JASANet Initiatives

With this in mind, the JITNet, JVNet and JASANet initiatives were set up on the internet as a central location which would contain information on Japan and the three remote-countries (India, Venezuela and South Africa), targeted towards businessmen, technologists, researchers, academicians and other individuals. The networks are envisaged to serve two main functions:

1. Technology information dissemination in a one-to-many mode.
2. Processing of specific queries/technology requests.

For [1] above, the networks have a homepage on the World Wide Web that contain a wide range of data relating to industrial policy, licensing, duty structure, tax system, industrial standards, patent laws etc. This is divided into three parts, the homepage itself, the Japan Page and the remote-country page.

a. The homepage contains an introduction to the network, conceptual frameworks, contact addresses for further information, future plans etc.

b. The Japan and remote-country pages contain country specific information. Documents, government agencies, national research institutes, universities, corporate and business entities, and other information sources have been listed. The menu items within the network may present the user with a file from within JITNet, JVNet or JASANet, or may interactively be linked to a remote site on the internet.

For [2], an emailing address has been set up so that a company can post a query to the address which is automatically forwarded to all individuals/companies subscribed to the respective network. The email address is also intended for companies to post details of technologies offered or requested by them. A growing database of offers/requests has been developed especially in JITNet.

IV. Online Technology Transfer Process in JITNet

A company that is offering or requesting a particular technology, has to fill up a form that is available online (see box below). The completed contents of the form is then used in two ways - sent over the internet to members subscribed to the JITNet mailing list, and added to a database that can be searched for keywords.

Technology Offer/Request Form

  1. Name :
  2. Position :
  3. Organization :
  4. Address :
  5. Telephone :
  6. Fax. :
  7. E-mail :
  8. Technology Status :
    • Provider
    • User
    • Other
  9. Country of Residence :
  10. Main area of interest :
  11. Please provide title and description of product / technology :
  12. Availability of techno-economic information on this product :
    • Yes
    • No
  13. Development Status :
    • Patent or design only
    • Laboratory model
    • Working prototype
    • Pre-production units
    • In current production
    • Commercialized
    • Other
  14. Type of Offer or Request :
    • Manufacture under license
    • Patent for sale
    • Joint venture
    • Financial investment
    • Turnkey
    • Production equipment
    • Training
    • Designs, formulation and technical assistance
    • Subcontracting
    • Other
  15. Type of Licensor/Licensee :
    • Limited company
    • Educational institution
    • Government/semi-govt. research organization
    • Private individual
    • Private research organization
    • Other
  16. What do you think about this service ?
    Comments, criticism and suggestions strongly encouraged.

While the necessary environment is created for making a technology offer or request, no active point-to-point link is created by the service. This system, therefore, assumes an active participation both on the part of the technology creater and the technology user to disseminate and seek out information that is made available on the JITNet Mailing List.

A certain degree of support is provided by Govt. of India's Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC) that collates technology output from more than 40 government research labs under the Council of Sicentific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and makes it available on JITNet as "Technology Updates". Collaborations and link-ups with the Indian Chambers of Commerce, and other private industry associations have also created a user base for the technology information.

Abstracted (and expanded) from "Japan and Bilateral Cooperation on the Internet: The JITNet, JVNet and JASANet Initiatives" Paper presented at the Multinational Symposium on Management of Technology and Innovation at Hangzhou, China, 24-26 October 1995.

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