One of the biggest hurdles for tech transfer professionals is translating between the excitement over discovery in the scientific community and the needs and concerns of marketability and profitability for companies. Here are a few tips on how you can bridge the gap between scientists and the research community on one side and business development and venture capitalists on the other:
Let Business Speak for Itself
While educating the faculty on the commercialization process is a main job responsibility for a technology transfer professional, how it gets done is up to the individual. There is no reason the tech transfer person has to be the one telling faculty what businesses want. Since both groups need one another, arrange a presentation or conversation, independent of a specific project, where no one has an interest in a particular outcome. Have the business development execs speak in generalities of what makes a project attractive to them and what turns them off. This way the faculty has a clearer understanding of the process in general.
Create a Commercialization Process Ranking Preference
Based on the presentation above, or your conversations with business development people, create a ranking system for the technology transfer office to rank and assess project viability. This makes the process objective and understandable for all involved. Sharing this ranking document with researchers will also help them understand how their project will be analyzed. They’ll be able to see, through this document, what would make their project more attractive to the commercialization experts. When their project doesn’t make the final list of offered projects, they’ll understand why and have a better feeling for what can be altered or explored to give it more commercial viability.
Share Commercialization Assessments with Faculty
Once the project has been assessed, don’t keep those findings hidden. Sharing them with the faculty or researchers involved should help them understand what their project was lacking and why it wasn’t considered commercially viable. Using the ranking system should’ve already given them some knowledge into this but a conversation will help enforce what they probably already know.
Education and communication are the critical keys in getting your faculty and corporate benefactors on the same page. While the technology transfer office has traditionally stood between the two and acted as a bridge, opening up that process and becoming more transparent (a term business experts like) will help establish trust and continue to build strong relationships.
How do you present information from the corporate world to your researchers? Leave me a note below.