Prof. LIU Shaoxuan: Cultivating Elite Multidisciplinary Talent in Technology Transfer 2023-11-02

In a recent development within the business and technology realms, a collaboration between Moutai and Luckin Coffee has given rise to a new product: sauce-flavored coffee. Widely regarded as a case of successful technology transfer, this innovative beverage has garnered substantial attention and sparked social discourse. The matter was further explored at the 2023 Global Technology Transfer Conference and the 4th World Technology Manager Summit. Liu Shaoxuan, Deputy Dean of the Antai College of Economics & Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Executive Dean of the ZBKF College of Technology and Finance at the same university, highlighted this unique product as an exemplary model. He asserted that the successful amalgamation of Moutai and coffee epitomizes the potential of scientists’ expertise and innovative thinking in the service industry, marking a triumphant instance of technology transfer.


Sauce-flavored coffee has broken barriers and set a new precedent in coffee marketing strategies, similar to how Shanghai Jiao Tong University established the nation’s first-ever Master's program in technology transfer in 2022, aiming to forge a comprehensive training system for multidisciplinary talent. This raises pivotal questions: How can higher education institutions rise to the challenge of nurturing talent capable of translating scientific achievements into practical applications? What can be done to eliminate bottlenecks and smooth out the path from lab research to tangible results?


Liu Shaoxuan shared insights based on Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s experience, emphasizing the necessity for interdisciplinary training to cultivate versatile professionals proficient in technology, market dynamics, finance, management, and legal matters.


To illustrate his point, Liu used equity structure design in startup ventures as an example, highlighting the common pitfalls tech-savvy founders may encounter due to a lack of financial acumen. “Understanding technology does not automatically translate to grasping the future trajectory of a business,” Liu stated, emphasizing the importance of leveraging financial knowledge to propel a company’s growth.


Shanghai Jiao Tong University has responded to this need by integrating resources across various departments and research institutions, creating an interdisciplinary curriculum that spans science and engineering, management, finance, marketing, and law.


Emphasizing the integration of academia and industry, the university encourages collaborative ventures between educational institutions and businesses, introducing professional technology transfer services and merging them with venture capital initiatives. This synergy has given rise to a distinctive model comprising diverse faculty, customized courses, and modular scenarios. External experts, including top executives from the financial sector, founding entrepreneurs, and senior partners from law firms, are brought in to train and mentor future talents in technology transfer.


Before engaging in practical projects on scientific achievement transformation, students conduct field research within their chosen sectors, visiting benchmark enterprises under the guidance of mentors. These companies are often willing to share insights on industry trends, experience in applying research outcomes, and challenges encountered in day-to-day operations, providing students with valuable learning opportunities.


Liu highlighted a unique course titled "Science, Technology and Finance," a pioneering initiative across national business schools, offering over 30 hands-on experiences within a two-month period. In this course, students work on transforming research projects sourced from within Shanghai Jiao Tong University and their own networks into practical applications. Despite being in operation for only two years, the program has already made a tangible impact, with some students collaborating on projects, commercializing research outcomes, and even establishing companies.


Liu concluded by emphasizing the national encouragement for researchers to engage in innovation and entrepreneurship, underscoring the importance of equipping them with not just technical expertise, but also managerial and financial knowledge to drive high-quality development in enterprises. The establishment of the country’s first Master's program in technology transfer at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, managed by the ZBKF College of Technology and Finance, stands as a significant initiative in advancing specialized reforms in the transformation of scientific achievements, aligning with national developmental needs.