Following up on my last post discussing best practices for using events as a form of technology transfer marketing, today I’d like to discuss the specifics of hosting your own event.
Putting on a tech transfer–focused event can be challenging. Even relatively small events require significant planning, not only from a content perspective but also all the logistics. Here’s what we have learned in helping a range of technology transfer offices (TTOs) put on a variety of events.
The best format for your event will depend on:
- The goals and outcomes you hope to achieve
- The breadth of technologies/research to be included
- How many attendees you expect
- The needs of the target audience
Be strategic in the numerous decisions you’ll make for your event. As a single example, we helped a client focus an automotive workshop by identifying the industry’s crucial needs. The agenda and featured technologies were set to align with those areas—lighter weight vehicles, electric cars, manufacturing, design tools, etc.
Invitations with Impact
Use market research to identify the right people at the right companies. Then use a variety of mechanisms to reach out to these prospective attendees, including email and social media tools. Keep in mind that some people won’t want to commit to attending your event until they know who’s going. So, if you can get a few key partners to commit early on, you can promote their attendance to build the credibility of your event.
Most events include a combination of presentations and networking. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) event I mentioned in my last post did this particularly well:
- Everyone there—both UNH researchers and companies—was invited to come to the podium to give a 1-minute overview of their areas of interest.
Advantage: Giving more people the chance to let others know what they need and/or have to offer increases the chances of finding a match.
- Each batch of 1- to 2-dozen intros was followed by several 5-minute “speed dating” blocks that used a bell to indicate it was time to switch to another attendee.
Advantage: It created a sense of urgency (i.e., you only have 5 minutes to determine whether you want to have more detailed discussions later) and made it easy to talk with multiple prospects.
I found this structure extremely effective. Not only did it make it very easy for attendees to identify whom they wanted to talk to. It also provided plenty of structured opportunities to interact with them.
Don’t forget that web-based activities, such as virtual conferences and technology briefings, require the same attention for invitations and preparation, though they can be more cost effective because they exclude the travel and time away from the office.
Hosting vs. Attending
As I said, hosting a tech transfer event can be a daunting task. So, I hope you find this advice helpful. Plus, Fuentek can provide your TTO with substantial support in planning, executing, and following up on such an event. (Contact us to learn more.)
In some cases, an industry event might be the better path to achieving commercialization success for a particular set of technologies or even a single innovation. So, in my next post I’ll provide some best practices for attending industry conferences.