In the last few years an analysis trend has developed in the sphere of studies dealing with the innovation processes of business firms. This trend is associated with an ‘open innovation’ model wherein a key role is played by the resources of knowledge deriving from the universities. In connection with this, the role of the universities’ technology transfer offices is also currently coming into being. By linking academic knowledge to the business firms’ technological knowledge, especially through the support given to the universities’ patenting and licensing processes, these service structures may facilitate the transfer of research findings to the industrial system. The aim of this paper is to consider the universities’ technology transfer offices in Italy as having an evolving role and to consider how their activities may impact locally on economic and industrial development. A case-study approach towards a research strategy was adopted. We carry out an in-depth study of the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) of the Milan Polytechnic, recognized as being the "benchmark case" at the Italian level. The work shows that the mission of the Technology Transfer Office of the Milan Polytechnic is changing and expanding, and that its activities, consistent with other university- industry links, may contribute to the development of regional innovation system.
Keywords: Technology transfer offices, entrepreneurial university, open innovation, local system of innovation, Milan Polytechnic.