Considering the “Why?” of Interns and Technology Screenings
Last week, I was talking with a tech transfer professional about our webinar to train interns on performing technology screenings. And the question came up: Why interns? Shouldn’t technology managers screen technologies?
I can understand why he asked. Given the value of screenings, it might seem too risky or time-consuming for a technology transfer office (TTO) to have screenings performed by a novice. But while it’s true that a seasoned professional can perform screenings faster than an intern, using interns allows tech managers to spend their time focusing on the real end-game: getting deals.
Interns Free Up Technology Managers’ Time
Part of the goal with technology commercialization is to get good licenses as efficiently as possible. Screenings are a cost-effective tool to help identify the technologies with the highest odds for successful licensing and therefore reduce the load on tech managers to just the most productive opportunities. Then TTOs can focus the majority of time and resources on the technologies that are most likely to move down the deal pipeline successfully.
Because tech managers have limited time, it is best for them to focus on the tasks that only they can do. Anything else that can be done by others, should be done by others.
When it comes to technology screenings, tech managers need to read the information to decide whether to move forward with planning a marketing effort, but they don’t need to gather that information. Properly trained and mentored interns can do that legwork to help the tech manager make a more informed, and thus better, decision.
Other Opportunities to Distribute the Legwork
The same thing applies to marketing. The legwork of marketing involves identifying and qualifying prospective licensees with whom negotiations should proceed. That filtering does not have to be done by the technology manager. Others with the required experience—be they other professionals (not interns) in the TTO or external consultants (like Fuentek)—can do the legwork to bring the qualified prospects to the tech manager’s negotiating table.
So whenever you can, let someone else “be the legs.” Doing so lets you keep focused on your most important goals.