Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

Live from AUTM 2013

FuentekBooth-AUTM2011Well, we made it through the first half of the AUTM® annual meeting. It’s been a great conference so far, and I expect the next two days to be likewise.

It’s a little bittersweet for me, as this meeting marks the end of my tenure as VP of Strategic Alliances. I am grateful for the many people who contributed to all that’s been accomplished in the past two years, particularly the successful development and launch of AUTM’s Global Technology Portal.

Speaking of the GTP, during yesterday’s special interest group (SIG) meeting participants shared some insightful feedback about analytics and search capabilities that they would find helpful. I’m sure those ideas will come to fruition in the not-to-distant future, especially now that the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation has generously provided a grant worth $750,000 over four years for education, research, charitable programs… and expansion of GTP’s capabilities. Kudos to Coulter!

There was also a great discussion during the SIG about how AUTM can most effectively engage with industry for the benefit of members as well as the companies that tech transfer offices (TTOs) are wanting to connect with. Some of the excellent ideas offered up for consideration by AUTM were to:

  • Focus the association’s outreach more on industry sectors than on geographic region
  • Offer webinars about a wide range of topics that are of interest to TTOs, particularly in the areas of new models and best practices
  • Host webinars at times that coincide with business hours outside of the Western Hemisphere

These suggestions will nicely build on what AUTM has already done to attract the interest of companies. We certainly have noticed that the industry presence seems to be stronger this year than in the past, though I must confess I haven’t seen the registration data to know if that’s really true. Still, based on the conversations we’ve been having with folks stopping by Booth #412, there seems to be a bigger trend of companies interested in sourcing technologies from universities than last year.

Of course, we’re talking to plenty of universities as well. Many of the conversations we’re having there center around:

  • Enhancing the tech transfer office’s overall strategy — not just in a specific area, such as deal-making, but organizationally as a whole
  • How to go about building a brand that contributes to greater success in achieving tech transfer goals
  • The potential role that social media can play for TTOs

These are areas that we feel are very important for TTOs, so we have been pleased to hear these topics discussed consistently.

One thing I found interesting was how the patent system was discussed by two different speakers. In Wednesday night’s fireside chat, Judge Randall Rader — Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit — stated that “I do think there is a litigation abuse problem” but “there is nothing wrong with the patent system” — and he certainly found a sympathetic audience for his anti-troll, anti-litigation stance. The next morning, entrepreneur Eric Ries ended his keynote address pointing out that “the patent system is broken.” Hmmm. (It reminded me of the same-planet-different-worlds Far Side cartoon.) BTW, for more about Chief Judge Rader’s presentation, check out Gene Quinn’s excellent summary on

Well, there’s lots more to come, including the “Social Media Unplugged: Is It Worth the Hype?” session today and the “Leveraging Trade Associations in Technology Transfer Marketing” panel on Saturday. And lots more meetings and booth conversations. So if you’re in San Antonio, be sure to stop by Booth #412 or one of our sessions.