Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

Awards for Innovation and Technology Transfer Successes: Why Apply, and How to Make the Most of It

Applying for awards is a great way to gain recognition for your innovators and to further the goals of your technology transfer organization. However, to experience the full benefits of applying, it’s important to be strategic as well as prepare strong nominations. This is where we can help. Since Fuentek was founded in 2001, we have prepared nearly 200 awards with a success rate approaching 70%. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and we’re happy to share our insights to make your awards application process a good one.

Key Benefits to Applying for Awards

Grow your technology transfer program: Successfully applying for awards will positively contribute to your technology transfer program. Specific benefits will depend on the focus of the award sponsor. For example, for the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC), the focus is on federal agencies moving technology from the lab and into the marketplace to benefit the public. Winning an FLC award lets entrepreneurs and companies know about the technology and inspires them to get involved. We saw this firsthand when we supported NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in applying for a technology development award from FLC’s Far West Region. When NASA Armstrong won the award, an entrepreneur came forward and licensed the technology to create a company.

Gain recognition as an innovator and collaborator: Winning an award brings important recognition with it. Innovation and tech transfer awards let potential licensees know you’re a source of valuable technology. And being celebrated for successful collaborations and moving technology out of the lab and into the private sector helps attract prospective partners.

Maintain researcher relations: To be successful in technology transfer, you are reliant on your researchers. They have to be involved in the process. Recognizing the work your researchers do through awards is a great way to maintain researcher relations.

Considerations for Applying

To get the most out of the award application effort, Fuentek recommends you keep the following in mind:

Be strategic in deciding whether to apply: If it’s a long shot, how long is the long shot? Ask yourself if you can leverage existing content and/or reuse what you’ll have to create new. Decide whether the risk is worth the reward.

Select awards that are a good fit for your organization’s goals: Consider what skills/benefits you hope to showcase and choose awards accordingly. For instance, communication is foundational to Fuentek, so we frequently apply for awards from the Carolina Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication. In 2021, we were thrilled to receive a Best of Show Award. Not only was this an exciting win, but it also showcases our writing and graphic design talent.

Be proactive: Look at what was required the previous year and collect that information over the course of the coming year. Although you shouldn’t start writing until the call for nominations has issued, doing this kind of preparation will pay off later.

If you submit people for awards, find the best fit: Look at the criteria in the award and see what’s expected. If the researcher doesn’t yet have all the qualifications, follow up with them about strengthening those areas, such as professional or community volunteering. You may be able to help them position themselves to be a good fit the next year. Also, watch for age-based or early/late career awards that align with the researchers whose work you want to feature.

Consider carefully whether to involve the researcher in the submission process: You may have to involve your researchers to prepare a good application. That said, if you can prepare a solid nomination without involving them, you may want to consider it. (In the event that you don’t win the award, the researcher won’t be disappointed. And if you do win, it’s a nice surprise.)

Prepare, prepare, prepare: Take the time to make sure you’re 100% clear on all requirements up front. If it’s an online submission, check out the submission system as early as possible. What does it allow in terms of text formatting? Test the word count widget: Is it working the way it should, or is there an issue? Taking the time to make sure you’re clear on all requirements will help you prepare in advance. These efforts will reduce headaches at submission time.

Consider feedback and lessons learned: If your application was unsuccessful, take what you learned and apply it to the next year’s award. Even if the award sponsors don’t provide feedback, you can glean lessons from self-reflection. Look critically at your submission and your experience preparing it, then determine what to do differently next time.

Remember: Even if you don’t win an award, the application process is a valuable learning experience and is an investment in future efforts. Choose the right award for your organization and follow our tips. (I’ll share writing tips in my next post.) Or contact us to discuss how Fuentek can help you successfully apply for awards. Good luck with your applications!