Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

Dude! Here’s How to Get the Most Out of AUTM’s 2024 Annual Meeting!

The AUTM 2024 Annual Meeting is February 18-21 in San Diego, and we at Fuentek are stoked to connect with tech transfer colleagues and engage with other leaders in our field. This year we are leading two sessions and will be in Booth #504 in the Exhibit Hall. Joining me will be Fuentek Vice President Becky Stoughton and tech transfer guru Marisa Naughton.

With eight educational tracks, 90+ sessions and roundtable discussions, a packed exhibit hall, and multiple receptions and networking periods, the AUTM meeting can be overwhelming (in a good way!). Here’s my advice to help you get the most out of your time in San Diego.

Plan Before You Go

Take a bit of time to make a plan before you arrive so that you don’t waste precious time figuring out where to go next. Review the schedule ahead of time—there are detailed descriptions for each session and event. You can also view the schedule by tracks to identify sessions for your particular area of interest. The AUTM Connect meeting networking tool is clutch for creating a personal schedule and keeping you focused!

AI is a hot topic this year, and several sessions are diving in to help Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) understand how they can leverage AI tools to increase efficiency. At Fuentek, we’ve evaluated several of these tools and are using some—with a healthy dose of skepticism—to aid our clients in stretching their tech transfer budgets. We’re eager to collaborate with other experts at these AUTM sessions. Stop by Booth #504 in the Exhibit Hall to learn more.

At the AUTM meeting, AI-related sessions include:

  • Role of AI in Tech Transfer Offices, Tuesday, February 20 at 10:45am in Pacific Ballroom 24, North Tower, Lobby Level
  • ChatGPT and Generative AI – What is it and How to Monetize it?, Monday, February 19 at 11:00am in San Diego Ballroom B, North Tower, Lobby Level

If this is your first meeting, be sure to attend the First-Time Attendee Briefing and Reception on Sunday, February 18, at 4:00pm, in the San Diego Ballroom B, North Tower. Our colleague Marisa Naughton will be there welcoming newbies. This is an easy way to meet other first-timers and AUTM leaders. And wear the new member or first-time attendee ribbon on your badge! The tech transfer community is a friendly group, and people do their best to welcome and speak with attendees displaying this ribbon.

The Connect and Collaborate session is particularly valuable for universities. This is an afternoon-long event where industry representatives give short presentations on the technologies they are seeking and let you know how best to reach out to them. This event is Monday, February 19, in San Diego Ballroom A, North Tower, Lobby Level. Part 1 begins at 1:45pm, and Part 2 is at 3:45pm. Check the conference schedule to see which companies are presenting in which session. If you have an innovation they need, they’ll want to talk with you during the reception, which is later that afternoon at 5:00pm in the Exhibit Hall. So be sure to polish your elevator pitch and have backup materials ready to engage more deeply!

Other excellent sessions (in addition to ours, of course) to add to your agenda are:

  • Fireside Chat on Sunday, February 18, at 5:30pm in the Grand Ballroom, North Tower, Lobby Level. John Dearie, Founder & President of the Center for American Entrepreneurship will address the importance of sound public policy to thriving entrepreneurship.
  • Opening Plenary on Monday, February 19, at 8:00am in the Grand Ballroom. In addition to insights from entrepreneur Ed Damiano, who has committed to building a bi-hormonal bionic pancreas, this session offers an opportunity to see the AUTM leadership and learn what’s next for the organization.
  • The licensing and other agreements track will focus on the various approaches for addressing common licensing issues and optimizing strategies for academic innovations. Review the list of sessions here.

Grow Your Tech Transfer Staff

If you are looking to hire quality talent, be sure to check out the AUTM Foundation booth (#404) in the Exhibit Hall to speak with AUTM Fellows attending the meeting. This group of young professionals is part of the AUTM Foundation’s training program for gaining practical tech transfer experience. You might find a terrific addition to your team.

Staffing shortages often lead to backlogs of invention disclosures, which can snowball and lead to higher patenting costs and staff burnout. We recommend that you be proactive and clean out your backlogs so that your new hires aren’t overwhelmed right out of the gate. And be sure to triage new inventions effectively to avoid adding to the backlog. (We can help. Stop by Booth #504 to discuss how.)

Maximize Your Professional Development

Take advantage of the chance to hear from experts in our field about all aspects of tech transfer. You’ll have access to recordings of many sessions for a year after the meeting, so don’t worry about trying to be in two or three places at once. In addition to the nearly 90+ educational sessions and roundtable discussions included in conference registration, there are add-on courses on marketing, valuation, and communications on Sunday, February 18, and on negotiation on Tuesday, February 20.

Use AUTM Connect

The AUTM Connect tool lets you create a personal schedule that includes conference sessions and other events as well as schedule one-on-one and small-group meetings that you can book through the tool. Download the app to your mobile devices to set up a profile, access the program and download presentations, find other attendees, send and receive messages, schedule your own meetings, take exportable notes, and more. Here are AUTM’s tips for using this tool.

Prepare to Network

This meeting offers lots of chances to network, so advance planning will be particularly helpful. Consider these tips:

  • Schedule meetings with organizations and individuals that align with what you have to offer.
  • Think ahead about the information that will be the most important to the people you’ll speak with. For example, what are the relevant aspects of your technology portfolio or research capabilities?
  • Plan how you will introduce yourself and your organization.
  • Practice your pitch to keep the conversation concise and interesting.
  • Use AUTM Connect to generate a personal QR code to make it easy to provide your contact info to new connections. We’re planning to print them on stickers that we’ll attach to our meeting badges.

Review the Exhibitor List

Review the exhibitor list before you arrive and identify those you have a particular interest in so you can make the best use of your time in the Exhibit Hall. Prioritize your list to focus on the ones who are the best match for your technology portfolio and/or needs, but don’t be shy about just wandering through to see which exhibitors catch your eye (or have fun giveaways). Remember to visit Fuentek in Booth #504! (Bring last year’s Lego mini figure to receive a new rad accessory!)

Have a Gnarly Time!

The AUTM annual meeting is an opportunity to spend time with and learn from like-minded tech transfer nerds for a few days. Enjoy it! AUTM has put together a guide to the good stuff in San Diego and is also sponsoring a 5K run (or walk) on a beautiful course along the marina with proceeds benefitting the AUTM Foundation.

Remember to stop by Booth #504 and say hello! See you in San Diego!