In my last blog post, I introduced three areas where brand new — or newly reorganized — technology transfer offices (TTOs) should focus their metrics monitoring efforts: (1) the invention disclosure pipeline, (2) processing cases, and (3) the marketing/licensing pipeline. Today I’m going to elaborate on the first of those three.
When it comes to invention disclosures, a TTO’s overarching goal is to ensure that any and all commercially viable inventions discovered within the R&D labs are disclosed to the TTO. In order to successfully achieve that long-term goal, the TTO must ensure that researchers:
- Recognize their obligations relating to intellectual property (IP)
- Are aware of the existence of your office and how to work with you
- Understand (in general) the process and benefits of commercialization
Editor’s note: Establishing and tracking useful metrics is part of what we do here at Fuentek. Our white paper “How’d We Do?: Establishing Useful Technology Transfer Metrics” provides research-based recommendations for measuring performance and success of tech transfer programs in government, academic, and corporate institutions. Contact us to discuss how Fuentek can help your office set — and meet — its goals.
To achieve these three sub-goals, new TTOs especially must do a lot of outreach and education within their institution. Therefore, the TTO should track the number of outreach interactions per year to ensure the office is putting forth an appropriate amount of effort in this area. The interactions might be:
- Events, including how many people attended – Attendees might actually be participants as well, as with the internal technology showcase Danielle wrote about last year.
- Training sessions and/or presentations at department meetings – We have lots of posts about this.
- Articles in internal newsletters or other publications – Check out our “Periodic Communications” samples.
- Social media tools – Although you don’t want to get carried away too quickly, social media can be a valuable tool for connecting with innovators, as this survey showed.
To understand the effects of the efforts being made to create interactions, it’s also crucial to track measures of the number of invention disclosures received. Better still if this can be broken down by department.
Normalizing the metrics to fluctuating items, such as number of research faculty and/or research expenditures, allows for effective analysis of your results over time as well as apples-to-apples comparison to other institutions. In the early years, try to establish baselines for the metrics and then monitor them over time to gauge the growth of the TTO. Don’t be surprised if the metrics level off as your TTO becomes more mature. Yet, this leveling off doesn’t mean you stop monitoring; an unexplained change may signal a problem.
One caveat in conclusion: The metrics I provide here are merely suggestions. In reality, the metrics your TTO uses should be tailored to fit your individual office’s situation and needs. This is something Fuentek can help you with.
Becky’s Metrics for New/Like-New TTOs: