A few weeks ago, I blogged about the results of our poll on the most effective way to encourage innovators to participate in tech transfer. Since then, the conversation has continued on LinkedIn® via the Technology Transfer Valorisation group. Some great ideas came up and, since some readers of our blog might not be members of that group, I’d like to share them here.
One comment came from a tech transfer professional in the Philadelphia area whose office is located 20 minutes off campus (yikes!). She wrote that having face-to-face meetings with researchers really helps build trust. “Now, they know and trust me, and they are aware that whenever they want to publicly disclose their idea, they need to talk to me first. In a few cases, they even directed new investigators to me.” Her other ideas:
- Including her picture in her e-mail signature (Great idea for putting a face with the name!)
- Having inventors review marketing materials for technical accuracy (Definitely a best practice that we follow in our marketing communications work.)
- Keeping inventors informed as marketing progresses (Agreed – consider Jack Spain‘s advice on communicating effectively with inventors and other internal stakeholders.)
A research scientist in Armenia suggested that tech transfer experts’ communications with researchers should emphasize that the tech transfer process:
- Isn’t going to be time-consuming for them (And, of course, one would hope that it truly isn’t.)
- Is creative, interesting, alluring, and “shall help to elaborate the idea to new levels of its perception, potentially triggering new scientific papers and new Research Projects concepts” (Training sessions for inventors can help convey this.)
- Can enhance inventors’ professional standing, create networking opportunities, and provide financial rewards (You can include technology awards on this list, too.)
A tech transfer director in Tennessee seconded that emotion: “Minimizing the time demands and imbuing the process with extra value for the innovator are great tips.”
An MBA student and TTO intern in Texas suggested “faculty outreach programs, compulsory training/interaction with TTO staff during new faculty/researcher orientation, regular interactions during departmental/school socials with faculty.” (BTW, if your TTO has or is considering an internship program, check out our Insights on getting the most out of your interns.)
An IP consultant and patent attorney in the UK said, “Show them the “money”. Honest and hard evidence of cost benefit and the risks with the benefit being whatever they value if it’s not money. Use all the tools you can to get the message out.” (It’s true that one must understand what inventors value; some actually find the financial aspects of tech transfer unseemly, so that’s a good use of quotation marks around money.)
Finally, a lawyer in Florida offered this suggestion:
I think TTOs should assign a tech transfer person to each faculty member (who shows some interest in this process and who has interest in innovation) to act as that faculty member’s “agent”. In this way, the process becomes more relationship-driven. Faculty members can keep or trade their agent. TTO folks get intimately familiar with the faculty member’s area of expertise and can do more external chasing of specific opportunities with technology in mind.
We wholeheartedly agree that forming a productive relationship between a professional in the TTO and each inventor is one of the best things you can do.
Thanks to everyone in the LinkedIn group for the comments. Do you have anything to add? Post a comment below or feel free to send us a private message via our Contact Us page.