In the past year or so, many universities have slowed down or even stopped their patenting and marketing activities because of budget constraints. Though I understand the realities of disappearing endowments and tight state budgets, I believe TTOs have cost themselves more in the long run by making short-term decisions.
Sure, a lot of money has probably been saved by not patenting anything for a while or not expending any resources in finding licensees. But the faculty haven’t stopped their work, so the TTOs who had cut back are now finding themselves with even more challenges:
- IP backlogs: Managing an ever-growing backlog reduces productivity and can increase costs.
- Declining faculty rapport: A non-productive TTO is seen as a roadblock and not an ally.
- Reactive (rather than proactive) decision making: Faculty may publish to force patenting decisions based on stat bar and not on market value.
Instead of merely cutting back, how about developing more stringent evaluation criteria for what you proactively decide to patent and market? You don’t stop the process, but instead you implement justifiable parameters for the decisions you make while decreasing how much you spend. If the backlog has started to build, this methodology also helps you quickly work through it to something manageable.
Such stringent portfolio analysis helps you to recognize—and then capitalize on—the most cost-effective opportunities. You also reduce the impact of all the issues listed above. Then, when the budget situation improves, you can relax some of the evaluation parameters to let more techs flow through the filter.
—By Laura Schoppe