Metrics for New – or Like-New – Tech Transfer Offices (TTOs)

Group Of BabiesAs Laura noted in her last Metrics Monday post, measuring the success of a TTO is a tricky business. Any individual tech transfer success requires a long lead time. (In fact, this was the subject of our very first post on this blog, which launched 5 years ago this month.) Yet, stakeholders want to see progress NOW! I know how frustrating that can be, yet they deserve to know how you’re doing. And you need to know how you’re doing. But this is challenging when the TTO is brand new or so newly reorganized that the full impact of your work can’t be known.

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.

So I’m going to offer up three general areas on which to focus early in the life of your TTO. Tracking metrics in these three areas will help put a new office on the right path to increase the probability of long-term success. The three areas to track are:

  • Invention Disclosure Pipeline: What IP assets does your office have to work with?  Are you effectively educating and motivating your researchers?
  • Processing Cases: How productive is your office?  Are you effectively processing invention disclosures so that you can efficiently identify and move forward the potentially viable candidates?
  • Marketing and Licensing Pipeline: How are you doing on those all-important final steps to commercialization that are performed by your office?

In considering these three areas, think of a TTO as a factory:

  • Invention disclosures are the raw materials coming into the production line. In order to be successful, you have to be sure your supply chain is working.
  • Processing cases is analogous to the productivity of the assembly line. If the line moves too slowly (or so fast that it proceeds carelessly), your production output won’t be optimized or a backlog will build up.
  • Finally, TTOs should monitor their “sales pipeline” just as any factory or other business would do. Otherwise a build-up of unsold inventory results, tying up resources.

And just as paying attention to all three areas is important for a factory, all three of these general metrics areas are also necessary for a TTO, established or new, to track and balance, although once the office has matured, the specific metrics likely will change somewhat. I’ll get into the specifics for the Invention Disclosure Pipeline in my next post.

Becky’s Metrics for New/Like-New TTOs:

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Posted by Rebecca Stoughton

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