Technology transfer is a business full of potential – the potential to make groundbreaking discoveries, produce an innovative start-up, or gain a large return on investment. Often reaching this potential is easier said than done, so how are universities ensuring they make the most of their technology transfer programs in 2012?
1. Investing in quality over quantity. We have always been taught to not put all our eggs in one basket, but when it comes to research one basket might just be your best bet to achieve a large return on investment. Ensuring funds are devoted to a few quality research projects can protect a university from focusing on research that only produces average results and small returns. Utah State recently launched a new program, which partners the university with businesses worldwide to “spin-in” additional research dollars. A “fewer and deeper” method, as Utah State refers to it, helps bring in greater funding by avoiding the dreaded research vacuum and making discoveries that are truly desired by society.
2. Taking risks. Try a new tactic. Create a new system. Regardless of what risk you chose, taking one ensures that your technology transfer program won’t become stagnant. Purdue University was recently ranked 6th nationally for startup creation through tech transfer and is always looking for ways to give it’s program an edge. The university recently took a risk by adding an additional service to help researchers test, commercialize, and market mobile applications. The system ensures researchers can quickly reach the market with their offering and ideally will bring in additional dollars to the university in the long run.
3. Building relationships. While relationship building may be an obvious requirement to achieve success in technology transfer, relationships often come second to basic research and development. Don’t forget that research is only half the battle, and commercialization must follow in order to achieve any returns on investment. Vanderbilt University, under the direction of Alan Bentley, is turning to a market-driven strategy. Focusing on the market requires strong industry relationships to both guide research and support inventions. Bentley commented, “The reason why that’s so important is because there’s an entire knowledge base that industry contains that can help us more effectively and efficiently move technologies forward. We wouldn’t get (that), if we were isolated.”
These universities have started off the new year with a focus on reaching their full potential by being selective, continually expanding and changing their systems, and avoiding research isolation; how is your technology transfer office working to maximize their efforts?