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Technology Transfer Mechanism And R&D Strategy For A Technology Company

Question

Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited (CFCL) is an Australian based technology company that is a world leader in developing solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology to provide reliable, energy efficient, high quality and low emission electricity from widely available natural gas and renewable gas. CFCL is developing SOFC products for small scale on-site micro combined heat and power (m-CHP) and distributed generation units that co-generate electricity and heat for domestic use. CFCL's SOFC technology has the potential to improve fuel conversion efficiencies and provide significant environmental benefits. CFCL's SOFC can achieve up to 60% electrical efficiency using natural gas and can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60% compared to coal fired electricity generation. CFCL was formed in 1992, and has its technology origins in research undertaken by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and was formed by a consortium of energy and industrial companies. CFCL is now at an advanced stage of development, and is moving "swiftly towards commercialization". CFCL has developed its own fuel cells and complete fuel cell "stacks", and has created "balance of plant" engineering that surrounds the fuel cell stack and controls the inputs (fuel, air and water), outputs (heat and electricity), timing, and temperature controls. CFCL has extensive R&D, testing and manufacturing facilities, and has an extensive patent portfolio (32 patent families) and its IP includes trade secrets, trademarks and copyright. CFCL is pursuing partnerships for manufacture, production and use of its fuel cells in delivering electricity to the domestic European and Asian markets. ECT is focused on advancing its portfolio of technologies that have attractive market potential particularly on a global basis, and their fundamental strategy is to secure sustainable profits through licensing royalties or other commercial technology transfer mechanisms (eg carrying an interest in specific projects). The Company's website is: www.cfcLcom.an and has an ASX code "CFU". The website has significant information about the company, its strategy, its technologies and its progress to date, the applications of the technology, its intellectual property, its strategic markets and other related information .A significant amount of information (such as annual reports, presentations etc) can be found from its homepage., including "Partners", "Products", "Info Centre", "Investors", and "Resources". Based on the information available, answer the questions given below.

1. What are the technology transfer mechanisms CFCL is currently using (or is proposing to use) to commercialize its technology? Why do you think they are using this approach(es)? List some of the advantages and disadvantages of possible commercialization mechanisms that might be relevant to CFCL.

(2) How is the company protecting the results of its R & D and related activities? What strategy are they adopting with respect to their intellectual property? (Hint: this should not only cover the companies technology, but other key elements of the company’s business). What type of international patent strategy should CFCL adopt? (Hint: you may wish to consider some of the aspects arising from the next question below). (You may wish to try and find some of CFCL's patents on www .ipaustralia.gov. au)

(3) From the materials available to you, what kind of globalization strategy do you think the company is adopting at present? Consider this on a broad geographic basis. Try and develop a technology/country matrix for the company. What factors will influence the composition of this matrix?

(4) Consider this globalization issue from a manufacturing and marketing perspective. Discuss how going it alone (ie doing your own manufacturing and marketing) might vary from other "partnering" commercialization mechanisms (eg distribution, licensing and joint ventures/projects). Are there any organizational issues that such strategies require to be met?

(5) Conclusion.

Summary

The question belongs to Corporate Strategy and it is about a scenario of CFCL, an Australian technology company producing solid oxide fuel cell technology. Various questions about the strategy of this company have been answered in the solution in detail.

Total Word Count 2530

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