Last week, I was talking with a tech transfer professional about our webinar to train interns on performing technology screenings. And the question came up: Why interns? Shouldn’t technology managers perform the screenings?
I can understand why he asked. Given the value of screenings, it might seem too risky or time-consuming for a technology transfer office (TTO) to have screenings performed by a novice. But while it’s true that a seasoned professional can perform screenings faster than an intern, using interns allows tech managers to spend their time focusing on the real end-game: getting deals.
Part of the goal with technology commercialization is to get good licenses as efficiently as possible. Screenings are a cost-effective tool to help identify the technologies with the highest odds for successful licensing and therefore reduce the load on tech managers to just the most productive opportunities. (How many of you are managing over 100 technologies? More than 200? You know they aren’t all headed for deals, so why keep them in your portfolio?!) Then TTOs can focus the majority of time and resources (that includes the overburdened technology managers) on the technologies that are most likely to move down the deal pipeline successfully.
Because tech managers have limited time, it is best for them to focus on the tasks that only they can do—that is, prioritizing and negotiating. Anything else that can be done by others, should be done by others.
Take the prioritizing that happens with technology screenings. Tech managers need to read the screening information to decide whether to proceed with the next phase of the technology commercialization process, but they don’t need to gather that information. Properly trained and mentored interns or consultants can do that legwork to help the tech manager make a more informed, and thus better, decision.
The same thing applies to marketing. Just as screening helps tech managers prioritize the techs that should move on, the legwork of marketing involves identifying the qualified prospective licensees with whom negotiations should proceed. That filtering does not have to be done by the technology manager. Others with the required experience—be they other professionals (not interns) in the TTO or external consultants—can do the legwork to bring the most qualified prospects to the table with the tech manager.
So whenever you can, let someone else be the “legs.” Doing so lets you keep focused on your most important goals.
Frankly, serving as legs is one of the very important roles that we play at Fuentek. Our services ensure that the important aspects of portfolio evaluation and technology marketing are completed so that TTO tech managers can focus on prioritizing and negotiating.
Of course, being the legs is only part of what Fuentek does when it comes to intellectual property (IP) management, forming collaborative R&D partnerships, and even marketing communications for TTOs and training. But that’s another post.
Do you need more legs? Contact us today so we can help you think about how to improve your outcomes by effectively using your resources.
And if you haven’t registered yet for the Putting Your Interns to Work: A Step-by-Step Process for Technology Screenings webinar, now is the time to do it. Remember: You can have as many people in the room as you like for one low price of $185. Or spring the extra $50 so you can have the video and show the training to your interns year after year.