Updated Oct. 12, 2010
Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a six-post series on how Fuentek views technology licensing through a new PRISM.
Success in pursuing proactive intellectual property (IP) management and technology commercialization depends upon having a solid institutional memory. And yet, as anyone who has recently had a “senior moment” can tell you, relying solely on personal memory can be risky. Thank goodness for the advancements in information management—and, specifically, knowledge management—systems.
Having provided technology transfer services via a virtual environment since our founding in 2001, Fuentek is well versed in information management issues. With years of experience come lessons learned. For example, good information management helps you:
Strategize. Although past achievements are no guarantee of future success, historical data can be extremely useful in setting (and justifying) the starting point in your negotiations. Be sure to consider not only your own deals but also what others have done. (We often use services such as Royalty Source® Online to analyze trends and historical data.) Such data also help set budgets for your commercialization efforts: “If it cost us $X to get Deal Y, how much will it cost to tackle Project Z?” Of course, the risks may be different, which will affect your priorities, and the return on investment calculation will vary from deal to deal. Still, looking at the past helps guide you in the present.
Negotiate. Getting to a signed licensing deal can take a long time, and the person leading the project might not remember a specific conversation with a prospect—not to mention all of the conversations held with other prospects. And suppose someone else has to take over the project? Effectively managing all of the relevant information ensures nothing is lost over time and during transitions.
Measure and promote success. Gathering data to report to your management (or other stakeholders) about the number of deals signed last year or other metrics can be a royal pain if you don’t have the data handy. Furthermore, many TTOs pursue a proactive communications strategy to chronicle and publicize successes via their websites or through other marketing collateral. (We have samples of the success materials that Fuentek has prepared for our clients.) Having an effective information management system streamlines the process of preparing these reporting materials. For more about metrics, check out our paper “How’d We Do?: Establishing Useful Technology Transfer Metrics”.
More streamlining ideas will be discussed in my next post. Until then, how do you handle information management for your TTO? Is there an off-the-shelf product that works well for you or have you customized a system?
And for those of you who are wondering what Fuentek uses for information management, that is an interesting story: 10 years ago, there were no Web-based systems that met our unique needs, so we had to create our own proprietary system. Much progress has occurred in the software market since then, and now we use the Sophia Knowledge Management System from Wellspring Worldwide.