Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

How to Get the Most Out of AUTM’s 2023 Annual Meeting, Y’all

The AUTM 2023 Annual Meeting is February 19-22 in Austin, and we at Fuentek are excited to connect with tech transfer colleagues and engage with other leaders in our field. This year we are leading four sessions and will be in Booth #110 in the Exhibit Hall. Joining me will be Fuentek Vice President Becky Stoughton and tech transfer gurus Marisa Naughton and Catherine Ives.

›› Preview Fuentek’s session topics and goodies available at the booth


They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and the AUTM meeting is no exception. With 10 educational tracks, 90+ sessions, a packed exhibit hall, and multiple receptions and networking periods, the meeting can be overwhelming (in a good way!). Here’s my advice to help you get the most out of your time in Austin.

Plan Before You Go

The conference schedule is jam-packed with sessions and networking events. Take a bit of time before you arrive to make a plan 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 a great way to create a personal schedule and keep you focused.

If this is your first meeting, be sure to attend the First-Time Attendee Briefing and Reception on Sunday, February 19, at 4:00pm, in Lone Star D, Level 3. 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. This event is Monday, February 20, in Lone Star E, Level 3. 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.

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

  • Fireside Chat on Sunday, February 19, at 5:30pm in the Grand Ballroom, Level 4. Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will discuss plans to incentivize and protect U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Opening Plenary on Monday, February 20, at 8:00am in the Grand Ballroom, Level 4. In addition to insights from author and health care investor Marcus Whitney, this session offers an opportunity to see the AUTM leadership and learn what’s next for the organization.
  • The advocacy, equity, and societal impact track will focus on communicating tech transfer goals, roles, and successes. This includes legislative advocacy and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) activities. Review the list of sessions here.


Grow Your Tech Transfer Staff

For a variety of reasons—new responsibilities for economic development and corporate engagement, pandemic-related staff shortages—many technology transfer offices (TTOs) are looking to hire quality talent. (We are too, and we’re 100% virtual!) Be sure to check out the AUTM Foundation booth (#405) 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. The staffing shortage trend is not likely to dissipate quickly, so you’ll want to get ahead of it. 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 #110 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 every session for a year after the meeting—including the ones you couldn’t attend—so don’t worry about trying to be in two or three places at once. In addition to the nearly 100 educational sessions included in conference registration, there are add-on courses on marketing, startup, valuation, and negotiation on Sunday, February 19.

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, find other attendees, send and receive messages, schedule your own meetings, and more. Here are AUTM’s tips for using this tool, and if you still have questions, stop by the AUTM Connect Help Desk, located in Lone Star East Foyer, Level 3.

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.
  • Bring business cards just in case as not everyone is ready to go 100% electronic. (I still like writing notes on the back of someone’s card to remember their key ideas.) If you want to go paperless, consider adding a QR code sticker to your badge with your contact information (that’s what we’re doing this year).

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 #110, located just to the left of the Exhibit Hall entrance!

Have Fun!

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 this excellent guide to Austin. (We’re looking forward to the fun eats, music, and nightlife!) A heads-up that the Austin Marathon is Sunday, February 19, and begins just steps from the conference hotel; if you’re not running with Team AUTM (donations benefit the AUTM Foundation), be prepared for the crowd of runners and their supporters as you arrive for the meeting.

Y’all stop by Booth #110 and say hello! We’ll be doing our part all conference long to ‘Keep Austin Weird’!