TECH TRANSFER CONSULTANCY
Strengthening Your Strengths, Solving Your Struggles with Strategic Solutions

Strengthening Your Strengths, Solving Your Struggles with Strategic Solutions

In providing technology transfer services to R&D organizations, Fuentek has developed strategies for maximizing team strengths and skills, solving organizational pickles, and communicating value to leadership. Today’s post shares these insights, which can help significantly improve your tech transfer capabilities and performance.

Determine Where You Are and Where You Want to Be

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The adage “knowledge is power” could not be truer when it comes to understanding how your IP management team is performing. To this end, metrics are your greatest ally: They will help you get where you want to go by accurately revealing where you are.

Fuentek worked tirelessly to help us set goals and raise the bar by benchmarking our university against peer and aspirant schools.”

Ah, metrics. They can be a tricky lot to gather. One reason is because useful metrics extend the full length of the tech transfer pipeline. Important early-stage measures, such as the quality of invention disclosures, foreshadow success in post-deal numbers. Weak metrics early on can signal the need to shift priorities to improve outcomes down the road.

And that’s just the direct metrics. There are indirect metrics, too. Tracking things like startup success and other ways your organization contributes to sponsored research and economic development are all important measures of your impact.

Of course, collecting these metrics takes time—a well-constructed database helps—and it should be done strategically and meaningfully. Once you have them identified, make metrics part of your ongoing processes and procedures so that they will work for you. Here’s how.

Additionally, balancing the metrics with tactful interviews of key stakeholders—from staff to inventors to management—also adds depth and insights into the analysis and recommendations.

Nurture Talent from Within and from the Start

Out-besting your best does not necessarily mean hiring significant numbers of new staff. We’ve developed some tactics to proactively build up your team from the inside and invest in the future:

Tremendous entrepreneurship training with Fuentek. It will help me a lot in clarifying my ideas!”

  • Tech Transfer Staff: Onsite and virtual training tailored specifically to technology transfer professionals can add significant value and capabilities to the people you have already invested in. And with tight budgets and growing expectations, it’s time and resources well spent.
  • Innovators: Your success hinges on researchers keeping the tech transfer process in mind from the first lightbulb. Teach your entrepreneurial researchers about tech transfer tools to increase their chances for success. Even those who don’t want to launch a startup benefit from tech transfer training, so cultivate relationships with those researchers as well.
  • Interns: As you identify areas where you could use more staff, consider implementing an internship program. Having graduate students conduct market research helps free up your professional staff for other tasks. Just remember to pull the pros in for industry interviews.

Communicate Your Value—and What You Need—to Leadership

The tech transfer road is long and often winding. Making sure senior management understand this timeline can help set expectations appropriately. Also, give them insight into the resources needed at each bend in the road.

This report will be very powerful in helping us engage key stakeholders to make necessary changes. It will also serve as an excellent short-term and long-term road map.”

It’s also important to develop strategies for successful and positive interactions with leadership. Those metrics we talked about earlier? They may require a lot of data gathering, but the good news is that they will help you more thoroughly demonstrate the depth and breadth of your team’s value and where you may need support for growth if you communicate them effectively. Professional-looking presentations and publications can help you do just that—they can be just as effective with your own leaders as they are with potential partners and licensees.

Be Willing to Make Big Changes

Thanks to the services provided by the Fuentek team, our tech transfer program has greatly improved and expanded over the past 3 years.”

At some stage, broad organizational improvements may be needed. Sometimes a reboot is necessary. Sometimes your processes and procedures need streamlining, and this investment will pay off with time and resource savings down the road. We’ve posted lots of our insights on how technology transfer offices become more efficient.

Fuentek can put all of these insights to work for you, with our action-oriented, holistic approach. Our experienced team can help you set these strategies in motion. And if you like, we can implement their full execution. Get in touch today to discuss how Fuentek’s services and expertise can be an extension of your own team.

Marketing More than Technology: A Comprehensive Strategy for Tech Transfer Offices

Marketing More than Technology: A Comprehensive Strategy for Tech Transfer Offices

The tangible result of an effective marketing strategy may be a licensing deal, research collaboration, or any other metric that is important to a technology transfer office (TTO). There are also intangible benefits of broader marketing campaigns—demonstrating your tech transfer know-how. When successful, these marketing efforts can elevate the profile of your office and cultivate a productive relationship with your organization’s researchers, management, and potential partners/licensees.

To help TTOs be successful with their broader marketing efforts, this post shares the best practices that Fuentek has found to be effective time and again with our clients.

Start with the End in Mind

We recommend that you begin every marketing campaign by identifying the outcome you want to achieve. Then select the rest of the strategy that will help you reach that outcome. For example, if your desired outcome is to improve the quality of invention disclosures, offer inventor-focused training sessions that help researchers understand why a solid—and timely—invention disclosure is important. Also consider presenting to their department leaders to achieve top-down support from management.

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Use Your AMMO

At Fuentek, all marketing campaigns begin with the AMMO strategy for effective communication. We developed and have been applying the AMMO strategy with our clients for years. The AMMO sets up guidelines to ensure that you identify not only a target audience but also effective communication strategies to reach that audience. Check out this webcast to hear how the AMMO works.

Knowing what you are trying to accomplish also helps to evaluate how a marketing effort is progressing. For example, when hosting an event to market innovations to potential licensees, use market research to identify and invite the right people at the right companies. Then monitor signups and be prepared to reach out again, perhaps through different channels, if key targets have not registered.

Consider All of Your Audiences

Who is your audience, what do they care about, and where do you find them? These answers will guide your choices for the message and the mechanism to connect with them.

For example, potential licensees and collaborative R&D partners might respond to direct contact, while you may reach investors and legislators by speaking and exhibiting at conferences or publishing articles and white papers.

Don’t forget about your internal audiences. Newsletters are a great way to keep researchers, management, and administrators informed about your TTO’s activities and successes.

Craft Your Message and Mechanism to Match the Audience

I want to thank you again for sharing your thoughts on technology transfer with us. I can confidently speak for our board by saying that you helped us clarify our vision for [the TTO] and set some strategic initiatives.”

Frame your message in terms that will resonate with the audience. This is especially important when conveying TTO metrics to management. Year-by-year data charts might be confusing or make accomplishments hard to recognize. Using effective graphics and regularly sharing metrics help set expectations, allow you to identify and tout successes, and provide context if there is bad news to deliver.

Share Content Across Mechanisms

Whenever possible, communicate your message using more than one mechanism. The more you repeat your message, the more likely it is to sink in. With inreach to researchers, consider online training videos, formal and/or brown-bag presentations, newsletter articles, posters, etc.

Also, use what you have already developed in multiple ways. For example:

The reports went over really well… The board members liked them, and [management] was impressed as well.”

  • If you post content on your website, share it on social media as well, which then drives traffic to your website.
  • If you have several individual listings for related innovations, consider bundling the technologies for portfolio marketing.
  • Success stories posted on your website should find their way into annual reports and presentations.
  • Leverage all this content for awards applications, which are a great way to highlight accomplishments and boost your organization’s reputation.

Form Follows Function

A wealth of technology marketing tools is available these days. Whatever tools you choose, pay attention to quality. First impressions matter, so it’s worth investing the time and resources into producing effective and compelling marketing collateral.

A few tips:

I really, really appreciate all the counsel and support that made our exhibit much more effective and productive and also more meaningful than ever. Without your help, it definitely could not have been successful like this…. I’m honored and feel lucky to have a chance to work with you and Fuentek. Thank you.”

  • Webinars/Briefings: These are a cost-effective way to reach potential licensees and partners.
  • Online Listings: Invest in quality writers who can work collaboratively with engineers and scientists to prepare persuasive content.
  • Presentations: Whether it’s at a conference session or a board meeting, keep words per slide to a minimum.
  • Conference Displays: Increasing your presence at industry events can be a smart investment at significant commercialization turning points. Consider key sponsorship and branding opportunities and compelling booth designs to raise your profile.
  • Infographics: Since a picture is worth a thousand words, infographics can help you simplify a complicated subject or turn an otherwise boring topic into an attention-grabbing experience.

As the samples show, Fuentek has years of technology marketing and communications experience. Contact us to discuss how we can help with marketing not only your technologies but also your TTO.

Looking Forward to #AUTM2019 in Austin

Looking Forward to #AUTM2019 in Austin

The next few days will see technology transfer professionals from across the United States and around the world travel to Austin, Texas, for the AUTM 2019 national meeting. Fuentek will be there, and today’s post gives you a sneak preview of the two sessions we’ll be leading. I’m also including links to more information if you want to do a little extra reading in advance.

(left to right) Fuentek’s Becky Stoughton, Laura Schoppe, and Danielle McCulloch. Find them at Booth #206 at AUTM 2019.

Tuesday, Feb. 12 • 2PM • Be a Pitching Coach: Teaching Researchers How to Communicate about Technology Effectively

Because they know their technology better than anyone, researchers can be your greatest asset when pitching to prospective licensees/partners. Ironically, this in-depth knowledge can also make inventors a bit of a liability in your marketing interactions. This session will help you give researchers the skills they need to stay on the asset side of your technology marketing balance sheet.

Led by Fuentek VPs Danielle McCulloch and Becky Stoughton, the presentation will give you the nuts and bolts of coaching inventors to pitch their technologies, including:

  • Understanding the innovation-to-commercialization cycle
  • Transforming technology features into benefits/value statements
  • Understanding and soliciting input on an invention’s viability in the market
  • Developing a clear, concise, audience-appropriate elevator pitch
  • Walking the line between sharing technical details and protecting intellectual property

They will also provide insights about effective techniques in coaching researchers, such as practice exercises and rehearsals, prepping for specific licensing targets, and training frequency and follow-up.

Danielle and Becky have trained hundreds of researchers in these skills, so this is sure to be an excellent train-the-trainer session that gives you helpful tools that you can use immediately when you return to your TTO. Don’t miss it!

Get a head-start on the “Be a Pitching Coach” session by watching Fuentek’s webinar with practical advice to innovators on how to talk about their technologies. Click here to watch “Pitching for Innovators: Communicate at the Right Level for Any Audience.”

Wednesday, Feb. 13 • 2PM • Innovative Programs from Government Tech Transfer Offices

The similarities between academic and government technology transfer programs are well recognized. Led by Fuentek founder and president Laura A. Schoppe, this session will feature three federal technology transfer officials presenting successful, cutting-edge approaches that can be easily adopted by university TTOs. For example:

If you’ll be at the AUTM meeting, we at Fuentek hope you will join us at one—or both—of these sessions. Or swing by Booth #206 to learn more about us and how our services help technology transfer offices be more proactive, efficient, and effective.

Nadia Carlsten leads the Transition to Practice program in the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security Division.
Eugene Cochran is a senior commercialization manager with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Daniel Lockney manages NASA’s technology transfer program.
Your AUTM Annual Meeting Checklist

Your AUTM Annual Meeting Checklist

The 2019 AUTM® meeting is coming up Feb. 10-13, and we at Fuentek are looking forward to it! If you’re with a university tech transfer office, you should too.

The AUTM meeting provides you with lots of opportunities to network with industry, investors, and research institutions. You can also learn about the latest developments in tech transfer and even advance your career.

Having participated in the AUTM meeting for several years, I offer up these tips to help you get the most out of your time in Austin.

Tentatively Plan Your Schedule

The conference schedule is pretty full. Doing a little planning keeps you from wasting precious time figuring out where to go next. AUTM offers a day-by-day schedule to help you quickly identify what’s going on at any given time. View the schedule by “Track” to identify the sessions that are of particular interest to you.

First-Time Attendee Briefing: Sunday, Feb. 10 • 4:00-5:00pm

If this is your first AUTM national meeting, be sure to attend this briefing on Sunday, Feb. 10th, 4:00-5:00pm.

Industry/Academia Connect and Collaborate: Monday, Feb. 11 • 1:45-5:30pm

These sessions give companies and universities a chance to interact. Industry representatives discuss the types of technologies they’re seeking. And you have time to network with those where there’s a match.

Use AUTM Connect

The valuable AUTM Connect tool lets you create a personal schedule that includes conference sessions and other events as well as one-on-one meetings that you can book through the tool. There’s even an app you can download to your mobile devices to quickly access the program and events during the conference, schedule your own meetings, and more. Watch this free webinar to learn how to use AUTM Connect.

Find Fuentek
at AUTM 2019

BOOTH #206 IN THE EXHIBIT HALL

  • Sunday 6:00pm to 8:00pm
  • Monday 7:00am to 6:30pm
  • Tuesday 8:00am to 11:30am

TUESDAY, FEB. 12 • 2:00PM • LoneStar B

Be a Pitching Coach: Teaching Researchers How to Communicate About Technology Effectively

  • Becky Stoughton, Fuentek
  • Danielle McCulloch, Fuentek

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 13 • 2:00PM • LoneStar A

Innovative Programs from Government Tech Transfer Offices

  • Laura Schoppe, Fuentek
  • Nadia Carlsten, Dept. of Homeland Security
  • Daniel Lockney, NASA
  • Eugene Cochran, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

 

Prepare to Network

The AUTM meeting gives lots of chances to network, so advance planning will for those will be particularly helpful. Consider these tips:

  • Use AUTM Connect to find and schedule meetings with the organizations/individuals that align with what you have to offer.
  • Think about what information will be most important to the people you’ll speak with. For example, what are the relevant aspects of your technology portfolio or research capabilities?
  • Plan how you will introduce yourself and your organization.
  • Practice your pitch to keep the conversation concise and interesting.
  • Remember to bring plenty of business cards.

For more advice, see Becky Stoughton’s series of posts related to marketing tech transfer opportunities at events.

Review the List of Exhibitors

AUTM posts the exhibitor list here. Review and identify ahead of time the exhibitors you have particular interest in, so you can make the best use of your time in the Exhibit Hall. Prioritize your list to focus on the ones who are the best match for your technology needs and/or portfolio… after you visit Fuentek in Booth #206, that is!

Have Fun!

The AUTM annual meeting is an opportunity to spend time with and learn from like-minded tech transfer nerds for a few days. Enjoy it! I hope to see you in Austin at Booth #206. Safe travels!

6 Tips for Writing Technology Listings for Tech Transfer

6 Tips for Writing Technology Listings for Tech Transfer

I recently had the pleasure of joining two of my Fuentek colleagues to present Drafting Technology Listings for Marketing University IP. Available now as a recording, this webinar offered by Technology Transfer Central provides practical tips and keen insights into this important element of the marketing toolbox for technology transfer offices (TTOs).

Considered the core part of almost any marketing campaign, a Technology Listing is a written description of an innovation and/or intellectual property (IP). Although a variety of terms have been used to describe them, Listings are strategic descriptions intended for specific audiences of potential licensees or R&D partners.

Today I’d like to share with you some of the tips and tricks discussed during the webinar.

1. Determine Your AMMO

As with all communications efforts, we at Fuentek consider the AMMO at the outset of developing a Listing:

  • A Is for Audience: Explicitly identify the specific audience that the Listing is being directed toward. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what is important to them and what about the technology they are likely to care about.
  • M Is for Message: Tailor your core message to the audience—that is, what do you want them to know and what will matter most to them.
  • M Is for Mechanism: Determine the best channel for delivering your message to your target audience most effectively. The Listing can take many formats: a simple email message, an online posting, a basic flyer, or a more elaborate brochure.
  • O Is for Outcome: Think strategically about what you hope to achieve with the Listing. Include an explicit “call to action” to try to make it happen, like asking them call you to discuss licensing interest.

The webinar includes several examples of AMMOs, and you can read more Fuentek insights about using the AMMO in technology transfer marketing here.

2. Start the Overview with “This Technology Is…”

We at Fuentek usually start the Technology Listings we write for our clients with the words “This technology is…” This technology is software. Or This technology is a material. Taking this approach helps the reader know right off the bat what you are talking about. Then, as the description goes on, focus on what the technology does for the user rather than how it does it. We have a free webcast with more on effective technology overviews.

3. Express Benefits, Not Features

Focus on the elements of the technology that will be a benefit to the market. For example:

  • Feature: This material absorbs less than 1% of water.
  • Benefit: Effective moisture barrier that absorbs less than 1% water

Yes, it’s important to be concise. But don’t let that stop you from explaining why a particular characteristic of the technology is important. Some benefits are obvious (e.g., faster, costs less), but some need to be explained. For example:

  • Making Assumptions: Unlike conventional systems, ours uses optical fibers.
  • Spelling It Out: Our system uses lightweight, flexible optical fibers, eliminating the copper wiring, coating materials, and metal parts of conventional systems

4. Use Images That Show Off the Potential Applications

Although you might have nice photos of the technology itself, in most cases potential licensees will be more intrigued by images of where the technology could be used. For example, rather than the photo of Kolon’s colorless polyimide material on the left, we used a photo of its applicability to flexible electronics.

5. Have “Fresh Eyes” Review It

In addition to having an inventor review for technical accuracy, ask someone unfamiliar with the technology to read the draft Listing. Ideally, you want this done by an editor who has the skills needed for this kind of review, but there might be someone else in the TTO who can give it that careful read-through. That person should look for mistakes and ensure the Listing makes sense to someone unfamiliar with the technology.

6. Always Post the Listing Online

Regardless of the type of marketing effort, an online posting of the Technology Listing is almost always essential. Here’s why:

  • Online postings allow you to leverage social media tools, which can link to the Listing.
  • Online Listings build the credibility of your TTO and demonstrate the depth and breadth of the organization’s IP portfolio.
  • Posting it online allows you to capture the serendipity of a potential licensee looking for relevant technologies.

Most of the resources needed to create a Technology Listing are invested in developing an understanding the technology and writing the text. It doesn’t require much more to post it online. Put it on your website as well as on free sites like Flintbox and the AUTM Innovation Marketplace.

This is just a sampling of the wealth of advice and guidance we cover during the 1-hour webinar, which included an excellent Q&A discussion. So you can get much more there.

Or feel free to peruse our other insights on preparing marketing collateral for technology transfer. And if you would like Fuentek to help your TTO develop clear, concise, and compelling Technology Listings, contact us today.