Until the 1980s, research and development was conducted by companies in their own laboratories with their own teams of scientists and engineers on the company payroll. 'Research and development' was considered to be a process which the company best kept within its own house. Interaction with other companies and universities was limited to meticulously described projects, which contractually established the company's ownership over the property rights of the results. In recent decades this model has evolved significantly. In order to respond to this evolution, Hasselt University founded the Tech Transfer Office (TTO) in 2007. The TTO first of all assists the researchers of Hasselt University and the academies in Limburg, but it also creates a bridge between the region and the corporate world.
The functioning of the TTO was financed throughout the years by three governmental channels: the Limburg plan (LSM – Limburg Sterk Merk), the Interface financing and 10% operational resources from the Industrial Research funds of the Flemish Government. Hasselt University provides the central logistical, administrative and communication support for the TTO.
In 2011, the TTO team was further expanded by means of external funding of three ongoing Interreg projects:
- Technology Transfer & Recruiting in Rural Areas (TeTRRA)
- Top technology clusters in the Euregio Meuse Rhine (TTC)
- Incubator network(t)
In early 2011, 3,8 fte (five employees) were working for the TTO. As a result of having attracted external funds, this number was increased to 6,6 fte (7 employees) by the end of 2011.