Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

The Marketing and Licensing Pipeline: Metrics for New/Like-New TTOs

ExchangingBizCards_iStock_000012401409_smallToday brings us to my final Metrics Monday post on metrics for new — or newly reorganized — technology transfer offices (TTOs). Today’s focus is on how you are doing on those all-important final steps to commercialization: marketing and licensing.

The TTO at virtually any university, non-profit, or government R&D lab is striving to maximize the benefits of the institution’s research to the public. This overarching, long-term goal is coupled with maximizing the “return” to the institution and perhaps the larger community. Of course, the metrics used to calculate that return can vary widely, ranging from generating licensing revenue to securing more research funding to having an impact on the local economy. But regardless, those are all measures that don’t show up for a very long time.

In the meantime, there are ways to measure your progress toward two key near-term goals:

  • To ensure that technology is being moved toward the marketplace
  • To ensure that the office is effectively building and using a network of contacts in industry as well as the entrepreneurial and finance communities

These short-term goals feed directly into the TTO’s long-term goals. How can you measure progress on these near-term goals? Here are some suggestions:

  • Number of networking interactions (e.g., events, meetings, etc.) – This metric is most useful in the very early days of a TTO to ensure you are getting on the right radar screens and will have a robust network to tap in the future.
  • Number of interactions with targeted prospects about specific opportunities (e.g., emails, phone calls) – This metric is also most useful in the very early days of a TTO to track marketing efforts.
  • Number of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and/or material transfer agreements (MTAs) executed – These early-stage agreements also help track engagement with industry.
  • Percentage of the TTO’s invention portfolio for which the office is actively engaged in licensing discussions – This is a great way to get a sense of how well your technology-specific marketing efforts are doing.
  • Number of licensing and/or sponsored research agreements (SRAs) executed – This metric is key for more established offices, so while likely to be low initially, it will signal growing maturity of the office.
  • Amount of sponsored research funding from licensees – This relatively early indicator of the office getting traction may be a very important one, as it is tangible and both easily-understood byand valuable to your researchers. This metric could be complemented by measuring the percent of licensees who also sign SRAs.

Editor’s note: Establishing and tracking useful metrics is part of what we do here at Fuentek. Our white paper “How’d We Do?: Establishing Useful Technology Transfer Metrics” provides research-based recommendations for measuring performance and success of tech transfer programs in government, academic, and corporate institutions. Contact us to discuss how Fuentek can help your office set — and meet — its goals.

Don’t panic! Some of these numbers may be very low in early years. That is to be expected, since you are a new TTO and looking for growth over time while your office is getting established. But it’s important to monitor these metrics — and to continue to do so in the face of one or more zeroes — to ensure an adequate focus on back-end marketing activities. I know it’s easy for a TTO to allocate a lot of resources to front-end outreach to build up the invention disclosure pipeline as well as to invention disclosure processing and patenting activities. These are important areas, but TTOs must not neglect investing in marketing.

BTW, in addition to paying attention to these early-stage metrics, new TTOs should also develop a way to generate a report summarizing their portfolio, primarily for internal purposes, though extracts may be useful for reporting and marketing purposes as well.  You’d be amazed at how many insights can be obtained from such a summary!  I’ll be blogging more about this topic in the future.

Becky’s Metrics for New/Like-New TTOs: