Although not nearly as costly as hosting tech transfer events, attending a relevant industry conference still requires a significant financial and time commitment. So, it’s important for your technology transfer office (TTO) attendees to achieve tangible outcomes. (Plus, you don’t want it perceived a junket.)
Here is some advice based on our extensive experience supporting TTOs.
Choose the Right Event
Here are some hints to help you determine whether an industry conference is worth your TTO’s time.
Check out the conference’s list of sponsors, session presenters, and (if they publish it) registrant organizations. Does it include technical and business development leaders? If so, then the event likely strikes a balance of the decision makers you’ll want to interact with.
Time for Networking
Industry trade shows that are jammed with sessions and do not leave time for one-on-one networking can be unproductive for generating tech transfer leads. Make sure the agenda allows ample opportunity to engage potential licensees/partners in meaningful conversations.
Regional vs. Technical
Don’t dismiss an event simply because it is focused at the state or regional level. It can be difficult for your TTO to stand out at massive tech-specific conferences, while an event supporting growth in a specific industry sector can provide an excellent opportunity to connect with nearby companies and even policymakers that can benefit your tech transfer efforts.
For more on making the go/no-go decision when it comes to trade shows, check out this post from Fuentek’s Laura Schoppe.
Identify Your Targets in Advance
Review the list of companies attending to identify those you want to engage with and prioritize them. If the conference offers a networking tool (like AUTM Connect), use it to schedule meetings with your marketing targets. When we’ve done this type of up-front work for our clients, they had much more productive networking interactions.
Consider Skipping the Booth
As Laura discussed here, having a booth in the exhibit hall is one way to create important networking opportunities. However, if your booth is unlikely to draw your intended audience, it might be better to do your own networking in the Exhibit Hall. Then you can seek out the targets you want to hit and not be dependent on them finding you. We found this particularly effective when marketing a NASA hydration technology at the Outdoor Retailer Show. A NASA booth would have been overrun by visitors who were not prospective licensees. But we were able to have nearly 20 productive meetings with potential licensees.
Let Them Market You
An obvious way to increase your technology’s visibility is to present a session or poster. But there are other options as well. Some conferences have an awards program you can apply to. For example, we helped NASA prepare a winning application for the Best of Sensors Expo award, gaining extra attention for its Fiber Optic Sensing System.
If your events strategy is working well, feel free to share your advice below or via a private message. And if you feel like you need more bang from your buck when it comes to events, contact us today to discuss how Fuentek can help your TTO achieve better outcomes.