A good technology is worth licensing

July 1, 2000
Rather than reinvent the wheel, many vision and imaging organizations are purchasing or licensing pertinent technologies developed by other companies worldwide.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, many vision and imaging organizations are purchasing or licensing pertinent technologies developed by other companies worldwide. Several vision and imaging research programs are on-going overseas, but obtaining knowledge and access to these programs has proven difficult. Fortunately, a technology-sharing organization has been developed in Europe.

To allow companies to easily tap into a network of European organizations and to cooperate on projects and exchange technologies, the European Union has developed a network of 53 Innovation Relay Centers (IRCs) whose main objective is to advise businesses on technology developments. Designed to help companies identify suitable technologies to match their needs, each relay center is an independent office backed by funding from the European Union's Innovation Program.

Through each center, companies and institutions can link to other relay centers located across Europe. The primary goal of the program is to create an exchange of information between organizations and to help companies connect with partners and potential buyers in Europe.

Program works in Israel

For example, the Matimop organization (Tel Aviv, Israel; www.matimop.org.il) serves as the Israeli chapter of the program, headed by Aaron Stern, IRC coordinator. As a public nonprofit entity founded by the three major associations of manufacturers in Israel, Matimop functions as the interface between Israeli companies and their international counterparts and promotes joint developments of advanced technologies.

"The network of IRCs has become one of the cornerstones of a European infrastructure for the dissemination of scientific and technological know-how," says Stern. "The aim of each IRC is to promote the transfer and exploitation of research results and technologies in accordance with local needs," he adds.

Matimop provides databases that are updated daily, lists hundreds of projects in diverse advanced technologies, and profiles Israeli companies looking for foreign partners. Several of these companies are developing image-processing and machine-vision hardware and software.

For example, Applied Spectral Imaging (Migdal Haemek, Israel) has combined CCD imaging and spectrometry to reveal the spectrum of every point in an image. Called SpectraCube technology, this spectral information is important because differences in spectra indicate differences in the chemical makeup of samples under test. The company has just signed an agreement with Welch Allyn (Skaneateles Falls, NY) to develop portable products for detecting retinal diseases that could lead to blindness.

Other companies that have joined Matimop include Algotec Systems (Raanana, Israel), a supplier of Web-enabled medical-imaging systems; CMT Medical Technologies (Haifa, Israel), a manufacturer of digital image-processing systems for x-ray equipment; and Video CAD (Holon, Israel), a developer of digital video recording systems. These companies are gaining global market presence because of the IRCs.

In niche markets such as image processing, IRCs are valuable because they allow small- to medium-sized businesses to become more visible though trade shows, Web sites, publicity communications, and joint ventures in research and development, manufacturing, and marketing.

Andy WilsonEditor[email protected]

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