Many of us are checking the suspension on our wagon trains, and rearing and ready to circle in San Antonio for the AUTM annual meeting. This quite possibly will be the largest migration and most important event to occur in this area since the Battle of the Alamo. So, before we start the wheels turning on our own Texas Revolution, I thought it might be interesting to share a little known fact about one of San Antonio’s historical heroes—Davy, Davy Crockett….King of the wild frontier.
Most of you know that Mr. Crockett was a politician, an entrepreneur, a hunter/trapper, and a crazy dude; but, what you may not have gotten from the Walt Disney mini-series, is that he was also one of the first ever technology transfer professionals. It would be fair to discount this fact as lore, or even point to the notion that there is no way he could practice the trade without a CLP or RTTP under his coon hat; however, make no mistake. He is one of us.
You see, before technology transfer was a profession, Davy Crockett successfully exhibited three characteristics that each of us should strive for in our day-to-day:
Davy was fearlessly unorthodox: Too often, we gauge future action from some historical royalty benchmark, past negotiation experience, or other campus or peer comparison. While this is valuable (and time saving) most of the time, it can at best discourage creative, independent choices. We can become so concerned with perpetuating and peer-checking what “was”, that we may limit what our profession “could be”. Be like Davy and explore new territory, disobey risk-adverse leadership (within reason), and chart your own unique course.
Davy found a need and then a means: It is common in our trade to accrue a load of technologies seeking applications. We then rush to identify commercial partners, and often end up broadly pitching a technology to a group with a focused need. Be like Davy and first seek out the challenge, and then identify the tool that will get the job done.
Davy was larger than life: I might get some pushback here, but I often feel that many technology transfer operations have been relegated to back-office units. Accepting this position means that you will be easily overlooked, less understood, and under respected. I would argue that while the faculty we deal with are the true heroes, the initiatives we employ, the outside mentors/capital we leverage, and the momentum we inject are a major factor in successful commercialization. So, be like Davy and don’t be afraid to grab your place in history.
I look forward to catching up with you all at AUTM, please call me at 614-354-8400 and let’s chat!
….Davy, Davy Crockett….King of Technology Transfer