Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

How to Get the Most Out of the AUTM Annual Meeting

AUTM 2020 is coming up March 8-11, and university professionals will gather in San Diego to learn about the latest developments in technology transfer and network with industry, investors, and other research institutions. Here is my advice for bringing back the greatest value when you return to your technology transfer office (TTO) after the AUTM annual meeting.

Before You Go

The AUTM annual meeting can be a firehose of information. To avoid being overwhelmed, do a little planning up front based on your goals.

If you’re relatively new to tech transfer…

You might want to learn best practices that you can apply on the job. So look for those topics on the schedule and plan your days accordingly.

Top Tip: Choose topics that relate to your current activities—either now or what you will be working on within the next 6 months. Focusing on the near term means you can practice what you learn right away.

If you’re in a TTO leadership role…

Your goal might be to network with others who have the same job you do at peer organizations. If they’re a speaker, attend their session and introduce yourself before/after it. Or use AUTM Connect to schedule a time to meet with them one on one.

Top Tip: Focus on organizations with similar operations, such as TTO size and responsibilities. Also connect with institutions that have similar levels of research expenditures or programs (e.g., engineering, life sciences, agriculture, medical school, liberal arts). AUTM’s Licensing Survey and the STATT database are ideal for identifying peer organizations. Then you can use AUTM Connect to see who will be in San Diego.

If you have technologies/capabilities to market…

The AUTM annual meeting provides several excellent opportunities for you to engage with potential licensees or research sponsors:

Top Tip: In AUTM Connect, use the buttons down the left side to look up sponsor, exhibitor, and profiles of industry (not service provider) attendees. Identify which have a focus that matches high-potential areas of your IP/R&D portfolio. Then set up a meeting with them to present your offerings.
The Connect and Collaborate event is particularly valuable. Industry representatives give 5-minute presentations on what technologies they’re looking for. If you have an innovation they need, they’ll want to talk with you during the reception.
Extra Tip: You’ll have a better chance of finding a match during your industry meetings if you have multiple relevant opportunities rather than just a single technology.

And of course…

Bring lots of business cards.

Once You’re There

Here are my recommendations for making the most of your time once you arrive in San Diego.

If this is your first AUTM annual meeting…

Definitely go to the First-time Attendee Briefing and Reception on Sunday, March 8, at 4:00pm in Harbor D-F. It’s a great way to meet other first-timers as well as the AUTM leadership, as several Board members will be there. The briefing provides excellent advice for how to take advantage of all AUTM 2020 has to offer.

Top Tip: Be sure to attach the ribbon that indicates this is your first annual meeting to your name badge. AUTM members are a friendly bunch, and seeing you’re a “newbie” will elicit an even more welcoming response.

If you’re interested in simultaneous sessions…

AUTM videotapes some of the concurrent sessions, making the recordings available afterwards in the Annual Meeting Library. Since you can’t be in two places at once, choose to attend the session that’s not being recorded, knowing you can watch the videotaped session later.

Top Tip: If AUTM still hasn’t indicated which sessions will be videotaped, ask the folks at Registration in the Palm Foyer on the 2nd level of Seaport Tower. They should be able to help you finalize your schedule.

If your TTO needs help from service providers…

The Exhibit Hall is filled with a range of vendors: accountants, lawyers, database system providers, and consultants like Fuentek. Chat with as many as you have time for. Even if you’re not the TTO’s decision maker, there’s no harm in learning what a vendor has to offer and sharing what you find out. It also expands your network, since service providers can connect you with other TTOs. Plus, you can get some great swag! Pick an aisle to peruse each refreshment break and pick up all you can. Stop by Booth #504 to get one of Fuentek’s collapsible reusable straw giveaways and learn about what we do.

Top Tip: If you are the TTO’s decision maker, think about not just what you need today but also what services/capabilities you’ll need within the next 12 months. Then filter the Profiles in AUTM Connect to identify relevant vendors and find them in the Exhibit Hall. Talk with several to learn whether their services, philosophy, and experience are a match. These are valuable face-to-face, no-pressure conversations that you can’t have once your RFP has issued. BTW, if there’s a time when the session offerings aren’t of interest, that is a great opportunity to engage with vendors, as the Exhibit Hall is much quieter during the sessions.

If you care about diversity and inclusion in tech transfer…

Don’t miss Monday morning’s keynote address from astronaut and former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center Ellen Ochoa. I am particularly excited to hear her speak, given my own Hispanic heritage, background in aerospace engineering, and commitment to diversity in STEM.

Top Tip: Get to the Seaport Ballroom early. This is the first year I can recall that the Exhibit Hall is closed during (most of) the opening plenary. This means a lot more people can be there than in past years.

If you’re nervous…

Have fun! The AUTM annual meeting is an opportunity to spend a few days with and learn from like-minded tech transfer nerds. Enjoy it!

Top Tip: Again, AUTM members are a friendly group. Don’t hesitate to go up to folks and say hi. Or come on over to Booth #504 and say hi to me and my Fuentek colleagues: Cathy Innes, Danielle McCulloch, and Becky Stoughton.
See you in San Diego!
Fuentek's Danielle McCulloch, Becky Stoughton, and Laura Schoppe at the 2019 AUTM annual meeting

Find Fuentek at AUTM 2020

Read more about our conference activities here.

Exhibit Hall Booth #504

  • Sunday 6:00pm to 8:00pm
  • Monday 9:30am to 6:30pm
  • Tuesday 7:30am to 4:00pm

Wednesday, March 11 10:30am • Harbor F

Tenure and Promotion Trends: Current Initiatives to Take Commercialization Into Account
  • Danielle McCulloch, Fuentek
  • Rich Carter, Oregon State Univ.
  • Justin Streuli, Univ. of North Carolina–Greensboro

Wednesday, March 11 1:00pm • Harbor A

Strategies for Commercializing IP When the Customer Is the U.S. Federal Government
  • Laura A. Schoppe, Fuentek
  • Zane Gernhart, Univ. of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Cheryl Horst, Univ. of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Mike Paulus, Oak Ridge National Laboratory