Millennials and Technology Transfer

According to some estimates there are 75.3 million Millennials in the U.S. alone. The number surpasses even the huge number of the 74.9 million Baby Boomers. With the opportunities in tech transfer growing in academia and on the corporate side, it’s essential to give some thought on the future of Millennials in this field.

What Millennials Want

The generation born between 1981 and 1999 has been typecast, much like the generations before it. They’re seen as energetic go-getters who don’t worry about seniority and expect immediate feedback on what they’re doing. They want mentors and responsibility from day one.

The Future of Technology Transfer Departments

Millennials are a natural fit for tech transfer in that a large percentage of them have entrepreneurial aspirations. However, the focus of many departments is shifting. While an interest in the area of study was once important, project management skills and experience in commercialization are growing requirements in technology transfer job descriptions. More and more universities and research centers are looking for established professionals to work on their teams.

The challenge is to bring these digital natives in and transfer the institutional knowledge to them. Impart the preferred methods of communication, training, and university protocols. Technology transfer departments, on the other hand, will benefit from Millennials’ tenacity and exuberance.

Why Millennials and Technology Transfer Are a Good Fit

Millennials want to feel a part of something larger than themselves. They want to be involved in a cause. Tech transfer helps bring life-saving technologies to market. This will appeal to millennials. Millennials like the idea of a high profile position. Tech transfer professionals must represent themselves, and their research institution, professionally. The position is highly visible.

Tony Hickson at Imperial Innovations in the UK said it well in a BioTech and Money interview late last year when he said, “…students are paying more to study and want a richer experience at university with involvement in entrepreneurship seemingly a major part of that for some. Entrepreneurial students increasingly expect access to mentors and networking evenings with major investors. They want to be able to pitch their ideas both as a preparation for their future careers and also as an outlet for and increasing engagement with an entrepreneurial ethos.”

Whether we’re recruiting Millennials directly into tech transfer or working with them from an entrepreneurial stance, their contributions are likely to change technology transfer operations and the commercialization process.


What do you think? Are Millennials and technology transfer a good fit? Should we be doing more to bring them on board?

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