Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

Leveraging Industry Associations to Attract Tech Transfer and Strategic Partnerships

Glenn Research Center 2011 Automotive Workshop (NASA photos)At Fuentek, we enjoy working collaboratively with our clients to implement innovative outreach strategies. In October 2011, Fuentek had the privilege of helping a forward-thinking team at NASA’s Glenn Research Center — led by Dr. Paul Bartolotta — to organize an Automotive Workshop. Although Glenn had dozens of technologies that would be of enormous interest to automotive companies, they did not routinely interact with major players in the auto industry. And they didn’t want to push out all of their potentially relevant technologies to see which might catch the attention of auto industry executives. Instead, Glenn wanted to understand market needs and position its technologies to address these needs.

So, Glenn reached out to Honda of Ohio, Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research (OSU CAR), Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network (MAGNET), and Fuentek to share a vision for an automotive event targeted at Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies. The team helped to identify a handful of key industry needs where NASA might help: lighter weight vehicles, electric cars, manufacturing, design tools, and alternative cycle technology. But that was only the beginning.

OSU CAR was so enthusiastic about Glenn’s portfolio of automotive technologies, they offered NASA the opportunity to piggyback on their upcoming quarterly event. At the same time, MAGNET opened their Rolodex® to publicize the event with their extensive network of Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive executives in the region.

Of course, it’s not enough to theorize about potentially innovative strategies. The strategies have to show results. Well, this collaboration paid off in a big way.

Out of 150 Automotive Workshop attendees, 146 followed up with NASA to learn more about incorporating space program innovations into their products and processes. Seventeen companies are in the process of establishing partnerships with NASA, several are testing materials via Material Transfer Agreements, while four are pursuing licensing deals. Lotus, the high-end car manufacturer, met with NASA to discuss 19 NASA technologies they want to incorporate into their next-generation sports cars and trucks. NASA was pretty pleased with these outcomes, presenting an Honor Award to the many individuals who contributed to the success (more on that in a later post).

These details are just the tip of the iceberg for this collaborative and successful effort. Therefore, in February 2013, I will be moderating an AUTM® panel titled “Leveraging Trade Associations in Tech Transfer Marketing” exploring these strategies and tools for more effectively marketing technologies to industry. This session will discuss how university technology transfer offices can establish productive relationships with trade associations, including the intricacies of aligning the intellectual property portfolio with industry trends, products, and needs. The panelists will present effective strategies for participating in (or hosting) trade association events to maximize their value and create a surge in marketing activity. We’ll even have Kim Dalgleish-Miller, chief of NASA Glenn’s Innovation Projects Office, as a panelist!

Are you leveraging trade associations to advance your technology transfer efforts? Tell us about your experiences with reaching out and establishing these relationships by submitting a comment below or sending me a private message. And I hope to see you at the AUTM meeting in February 2013!