TECH TRANSFER CONSULTANCY
Know When to Increase Your Technology Marketing Push

Know When to Increase Your Technology Marketing Push

A common mistake in marketing intellectual property (IP) is spending too much too soon on splashy materials with questionable impact. But just as detrimental to your long-term commercialization plan is being too modest when the technology warrants a bigger marketing effort. Knowing when to push and when to hold back requires looking at the market, understanding how the technology fits into it, and being realistic about the opportunities.

Case in point: Fuentek’s client Kolon has recently enjoyed several successes for its colorless polyimide (CPI™) technology. Ten years in the making, CPI’s inclusion in top-of-the-line consumer electronics and notable award win now give it the clout of an industry game-changer.

Fuentek helped Kolon navigate this path to major market uses and players by evaluating CPI’s progressive potential, offering intelligent communication options, and delivering on them expertly.

 

Increase Web Presence to Match Industry Muscle

While early-stage technologies benefit from cost-effective online technology listings (as we did for CPI in its early days), IP with major industry potential may call for a shift to a more significant web presence. Fuentek developed an award-winning microsite for Kolon CPI with a dynamic format appropriate to the product’s industry prominence.

 

Reinforce Messaging with Video Content

As your IP gains prominence, supplementing web and printed content with video is a wise investment. Fuentek produced (in less than a week) a powerful, 2-minute video for Kolon CPI, running it during the awards event and on large screens at SID 2018. The video drew attention from all the top mobile device manufacturers to Kolon’s booth.

 

Tech marketing videos can also be used cost-effectively on the web and by creating additional shorter (15- to 20-second) clips ideal for brand reinforcement on social media and sharing among stakeholders and industry influencers.

 

Take Events to the Next Level

Increasing your presence at industry events with company leadership attendance and prominent marketing can be a smart investment at significant turning points in your commercialization process.

During CPI’s early development years, Fuentek advised attendance at smaller, research-driven conferences to identify partners and put CPI on the radar of industry leaders. As the technology matured, it was important to shift from research-level events to market-ready product events with high-level decision makers present. As such, Fuentek has supported Kolon at SID Display Week for several years, increasing the company’s exposure as a major attendee.

Consider these two booths that Fuentek prepared for Kolon. The one on the left is from the 2011 FlexTech conference, when we were seeking research-level partnerships. The one on the right was from Display Week 2018, now that Kolon has a production-ready product.

Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing Push at Events

Identify sponsorship and branding opportunities to get the most bang for your buck

Kolon’s sponsorship provided a prominent presence at Display Week 2018, as did the escalator wraps Fuentek designed.

 

Craft a message that is concise and consistent

Fuentek’s clear and concise messaging about Kolon CPI made excellent tweet fodder during the conference.

 

Leverage PR opportunities to coincide with event attendance

The successful win of a Display Industry Award provided numerous opportunities to enhance Kolon’s image and brand.

 

Consider mobile ads to help identify potential customers and aid follow-up marketing

We developed and implemented an online advertising campaign that helped conference attendees keep Kolon in mind, even when they were thinking about other things… like the weather.

 

Contact us to learn more about how Fuentek can evaluate your IP’s market potential, work with you to develop the right marketing tools at the right time, and help market your technology to the best prospects.

CPI is a trademark of Kolon Industries, Inc.

Award Win, New Products for Kolon’s Colorless Polyimide: A Case Study in Targeting the Right Market

Award Win, New Products for Kolon’s Colorless Polyimide: A Case Study in Targeting the Right Market

We at Fuentek are thrilled to share some exciting news for one of our clients. Kolon Industries received the 2018 Display Component of the Year Award from the Society for Information Display for its Colorless Polyimide (CPI™) technology. And later this year, Kolon’s cutting-edge material will be in the pockets of everyone with the Samsung Galaxy Xthe only phone in the world with a foldable display.

Presented during Display Week, the 2018 Display Industry Awards (DIAs) recognize innovative display products, components, and applications that hold the most promise for shaping the future of the global industry. “We commend [Kolon’s] ongoing commitment to innovation and to helping shape the future of display performance and solutions,” said Display Industry Awards Committee Chairman Wei Chen.

Kolon CPI Technology

Kolon’s Award-Winning Colorless Polyimide Technology

Kolon’s CPI was selected for the Display Component of the Year Award for its remarkable properties:

  • ColorlessUnlike other polyimide materials, which are all yellow, Kolon CPI is highly transparent with great clarity.
  • Flexible: Kolon CPI films can be folded or rolled, conforming to a new generation of innovative devices.
  • Unique surface: The surface is both exceptionally smooth and durable, making it an ideal film substrate.

Kolon's Colorless Polyimide film is flexible, foldable, and rollable.Not only can Kolon’s flexible CPI replace glass for cover windows, but it can replace all glass components in display devices or substrates for touchscreens and the thin-film transistors used in flat-panel displays.

In addition to its use in displays—such as foldable smart phones—Kolon CPI can be used in:

  • Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs)
  • Liquid crystal displays (LCDs)
  • Organic photovoltaics (OPVs)
  • Flexible printed circuit boards (FPCBs)
  • Semiconductors
  • Electrostatic dissipative coatings (e.g., for fighter jets)
  • Electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding
  • Solar sails
  • Space antennas
  • Fresnel lenses
  • Reflectors

It’s available in film form and as a varnish for coatable surfaces. More details about Kolon CPI are available here.

 

Billion-Dollar Baby

(l to r) Kolon's SangKyun Kim, Fuentek's Laura Schoppe, Fuentek partner and Kolon consultant Dr. Terry St. Clair, and Kolon's Dr. YoungSeo YoonFuentek is proud to have played a part in Kolon’s success in entering the multi-billion-dollar market for smart phone displays. Our initial evaluation of the technology found that the material’s unique properties gave it potential for a range of markets. Our unique approach to market assessment and our expert analysts determined that electronic displays was the area to target. So we gave Kolon our recommendations regarding:

  • Key market players to contact
  • Trends in core attributes for the material
  • The best industry events to engage with decision makers
  • How to structure the offer as a combination of sales and licensing

Because Kolon is based in South Korea, the company chose to leverage our U.S. presence, asking us to be a partner in implementing the strategy. (We were happy to oblige!) In the meantime, Kolon continued with its R&D, focusing on achieving a price point and other characteristics that we advised were essential for commercialization success.

Of you would like to learn more about Kolon CPI or how Fuentek can help you achieve commercialization success for your innovations, contact me through our website.

CPI is a trademark of Kolon Industries, Inc.

Negotiating a License? Consider the Different Faces of Value for Tech Transfer

Negotiating a License? Consider the Different Faces of Value for Tech Transfer

When thinking about the value of a licensing agreement, it’s easy to focus on the financial terms, such as up-front payments and royalty rates. However, licensing revenue isn’t the only area to negotiate financial terms. And in many cases, non-financial terms can have significant value.

Financial terms beyond licensing revenue are pretty straightforward to negotiate:

  • For a university, the terms could involve the company providing ongoing research dollars or an endowed chair.
  • For the company licensee, the terms may require consulting from the inventor or access to university equipment for testing.
  • If a company is licensing out its own technology, the terms could include the licensee providing final product back to the company at a discount.

Non-financial terms are a little less typical but no less valuable, particularly when they help achieve your goals for the deal. Consider the unusual non-financial terms negotiated in these two examples, one from a university and one from a commercial company.

 

Tapping into the Licensee’s PR Machine

When Fuentek helped a university negotiate a license for medical imaging technology, we found ourselves in an unusual situation with the inventor. Whereas most faculty are eager to bring in dollars, this guy had all the research funding he could handle. He also wasn’t particularly interested in his royalty earnings.

But he was interested in making sure the licensee actually launched the product. This was, in part, because the new product would help ensure patients benefitted. More importantly, product launch would contribute to establishing a new protocol standard.

So, the inventor didn’t want the technology to just sit on the licensee’s shelf. The question was: What terms would help achieve that goal?

Of course, the university could have set specific terms related to product launch, such as number of products sold by a specific date. But there was still too much development and risk to accurately predict the timing and ramp-up of sales. Plus, setting sales goals didn’t necessarily address the desire to establish this technology as a new standard. So, we came up with terms that came at the goal indirectly.

Under the negotiated deal, the company agreed to present papers at key industry conferences as well as buy program ads and exhibit hall booths. The company also agreed to feature the technology in its monthly promotional magazine.

These terms provided important value:

  • The publicity helped put the company “on the hook” for moving forward with commercialization.
  • Specifying the trade shows ensured the licensee targeted the correct market in a very visible way.
  • The licensee didn’t perceive these terms as having a cost, since the company would have attended these conferences and published the magazine anyway. Plus, a different budget in the company pays for these activities.
  • Although the company viewed these terms as non-financial, we could estimate a dollar value to present to university management.

The Lesson

Think about what the other party has that is valuable to you but that they may take for granted. Then you can negotiate terms that benefit you without them feeling like they gave something up.

 

Ensuring a Quality Product

Fuentek was helping a commercial company license out a unique material used in its own products to another company selling products in an entirely different market segment. The licensee would have access to our client’s know-how in making the material and the technique for integrating it into the product, achieving cost savings and increasing its market size.

But there was a catch.

Our client wanted the licensee to purchase the resin needed for its material from a specific supplier. You see, the material’s quality was highly dependent upon the quality of the resin. If the resin did not achieve certain specifications, the final material would not work well. This would result in an unhappy licensee. Or an inferior product with dissatisfied customers. Or very likely both!

So, we developed a term to manage the supply chain, ensuring that the target supplier’s high-quality resin was required as part of the agreement.

The Lesson

You must structure a term like this very carefully. And you can’t specify a supplier for commodities. But if success depends on a special product that is a crucial component needed to meet critical standards, then devise terms that provide some level of control over that component or the supply chain. (BTW, this structure may also allow for additional revenue outside of the license agreement, if there is a financial relationship with the supplier.)

 

Look to the Experts

Fuentek has more than 15 years of experience helping clients develop and implement negotiation strategies that achieve a wide range of financial and non-financial goals. To learn more, check out our licensing insights, our deal-making services, or contact us to discuss how Fuentek can help in your negotiations.

5 Tips for Cultivating Tech Transfer Marketing Leads

5 Tips for Cultivating Tech Transfer Marketing Leads

Today for the final installment in our Marketing Mondays series, I’m going to talk about cultivating your leads. The advice and examples offered here are designed to help your technology transfer office (TTO) stay in the sweet spot of putting in enough time to develop a qualified prospect without wasting time trying to force something that’s not meant to be.

If you haven’t already done so, check out my webcast on preparing to engage technology transfer prospects. Then use the following advice to keep those meaningful conversations moving toward negotiations.

 

1. Focus on What’s Important to Them

A first consideration in tech transfer is: Does the innovation address a genuine need? This focus on what the market needs permeates the marketing effort. Therefore, frame your conversations around what prospects will need to be able to make an informed decision about licensing the technology:

  • If they need test data, figure out how to get it. You might even be able to involve a prospect in the testing, as in this example.
  • If they are uncertain about the market, consider sharing the data gathered when ramping up to marketing. For more on how to use market data to cultivate a lead, check out example #1 here.
  • If they need to talk to inventor, line it up. But

 

2. Carefully Consider Inventor Involvement

In each situation, decide how — and even whether — to involve the inventor in conversations with prospects. Sometimes inventors can be incredibly useful to the process, especially when the researchers are savvy about the business case for their work, understand and appreciate the mission of the TTO, and/or can clearly explain their technology to a non-expert. However, other researchers are more comfortable in the lab and struggle in these kinds of conversations. And still others may be detrimental to the effort, as in this example.

Sometimes the TTO technology manager can take the conversation with prospects only so far and the inventor has to be involved. In these cases, coaching inventors can greatly enhance their involvement. You can devise a script of sorts and/or have practice conversations. The goal is to help them distance themselves from their technology — to see it from the prospect’s perspective.

Remember to stay involved during prospect-inventor interactions. There are a host of reasons for this. Prospects might ask a question that the inventor can’t (or shouldn’t!) answer about licensing. Or the potential licensee might reveal a detail that will be useful in later negotiations (but that the inventor might not think to tell you). The list goes on and on.

So rather than handing prospects over to the inventor, facilitate the discussion between them.

 

3. Bring in the Inventor at the Right Time

This can be tricky, because the “right time” will vary. This subjective judgment requires the ability to weigh the value of inventor involvement against the potential risks:

  • Too Early: Involving the inventor too early means more interactions, some of which will undoubtedly involve unqualified prospects. If this becomes a burden, the inventor might stop participating in the tech transfer effort.
  • Too Late: If prospects think you’re wasting their time by staying in the middle or preventing access to the inventor, they will walk away.

Evaluate critically whether prospects are still just kicking the tires. If they are truly engaged, then involving the inventor is likely worthwhile, especially when you cannot efficiently or effectively provide the answers to their questions yourself.

 

4. Set an Action Item in Every Call

If a prospect has not given you a solid “No,” another conversation will need to happen. This is perfectly understandable, given that people need time to mull over and/or consult with others about what you’ve proposed. However, your prospects are busy people. And quite frankly, your technology is not their top priority. So, you need to walk the tightrope between staying on their radar screen without being a pest.

Having conducted hundreds of these calls, Fuentek has found that having an action item gives you a reason to follow up with prospects:

  • If the action item is yours, you will provide them with something new and valuable when you call back — an answer to their question, a published paper, data they requested.
  • If the action item is theirs, it provides you with an excuse to (gently and politely) remind them of the technology.

Therefore, make sure when every conversation ends that you’ve identified something actionable.

 

5. Know When It’s Time to Give Up

Persistence is important. Just because they don’t call you back doesn’t mean they’re not interested. But the reverse can also be true.

Even when a market exists, the technology is far enough along in its development, a prospect is perfectly poised to commercialize it, and every conversation seems positive… sometimes it’s just not meant to be.

A Story from the Field

It can be hard to walk away in these cases. But you must continually weigh the likelihood of success against what it takes to get there. A great example of this was Fuentek’s experience working with the TTO at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center on a ground collision avoidance technology for aircraft.

We had identified and engaged with a leading supplier of avionics equipment. It was a perfect tech transfer match. The folks there understood the technology and the market. And the company could easily package NASA’s innovation in its existing product line. The conversations always went well, and they kept saying they were interested, even after some lengthy gaps between interactions.

But after a while, it became clear to us that a deal wasn’t going to happen. The business kept giving higher priority to its other projects. And for whatever reason, the people we were talking with just wouldn’t say, “No.”

So we did.

That is, Fuentek recommended that the TTO instead focus their limited resources on other technologies with strong potential. The TTO took our advice and those technologies did get licenses. (Here’s an example.)

So, how do you know when it’s time to give up?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is what you’ve invested starting to exceed the potential return?
  • Looking at everything that’s happened so far, how likely is it that a deal is going to happen?
  • Are there other high-potential technologies in the IP portfolio that you’ve had to neglect?
  • And what does your gut say?

 

Fuentek has a lot of experience helping universities, governments, and companies cultivate tech transfer leads, bringing qualified prospects to the negotiating table. To discuss how we can help your organization, contact us today.

Best Practices for Technology Briefings for Tech Transfer

Best Practices for Technology Briefings for Tech Transfer

Technology briefings can be a cost-effective way for a technology transfer office (TTO) to reach potential licensees and partners. These briefings typically include a technical presentation from the inventor as well as details on the licensing/partnering process from a TTO representative. Experience has shown that an online/webinar technology briefing:

  • Can dramatically increase the efficiency of the marketing effort since it eliminates the need to convey the same information multiple times in individual discussions
  • Allows you to set a specific timeline for receiving and selecting licensing/partnering applications
  • Eliminates travel costs and provides a recording to post for interested parties who missed the live event

Of course, technology briefings require extensive planning and preparation. And not every innovation is suited to a technology briefing. For the greatest success, Fuentek offers the following advice as part of our Marketing Mondays series.

Choose Wisely

Conducting a technology briefing requires a significant investment of time. Therefore, it is crucial to choose projects for which a reasonable return on that investment is anticipated. Review the intellectual property (IP) portfolio to identify high-potential technologies that lend themselves to a briefing. Consider these factors:

  • Is the technology easier to explain with dynamic graphics and/or demonstrations?
  • Do potential licensees need to hear a detailed explanation and/or ask questions to understand how it will benefit them and their customers?
  • Does the licensing strategy involve securing multiple non-exclusive deals?
  • Will creating a competitive environment and/or a sense of urgency benefit the outcome?

If a technology is applicable across a range of fields, you might need to do several different briefings targeted at each specific market. (The majority of the information will be the same.)

Plan Your Promotional Strategy

Identify your target audience and develop appropriate marketing collateral, following the AMMO strategy for effective communication.

In particular, develop a new (or revise an existing) web page for the technology and the briefing. This site serves as the central repository for all available information. (Depending on the webinar system, you might have to link to a separate page for the online registration.) Remember to lay out the page in an appealing manner. Begin with concise, high-level material that engages the reader and entices them to “drill down” into more the available details.

Carefully identify your target audience. Then use a strategic mix of channels to reach out to them with a compelling invitation. Leverage social media and direct contact as appropriate.

Collaborate on the Technical Content

Work with the inventor to develop the slides, graphics, and other media to create an effective technology presentation. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Use the AMMO to explain who will attend the briefing, their knowledge base and interests, and the main “take-aways” for the briefing.
  • Let the inventor know how much time is allotted for the technical portion of the briefing.
  • Develop and share the briefing’s overall outline so the inventor knows what information the other presenter(s) will convey.
  • Work collaboratively on the technical outline before slide development to focus the content appropriately.
  • Help the inventor make judicious use of animation to create visual interest. Keep in mind that webinar-based presentations often have a time lag.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Some people can make an effective presentation from bulleted notes. Others do better with a more detailed script. Regardless, all presenters should be comfortable with their presentations.

Therefore, run at least one practice session well in advance of the briefing date. This ensures there is time to implement changes and have a second (or third) run-through if revisions are extensive.

If a section is particularly troublesome during practice — for example, if demonstrating the technology is time-consuming — consider presenting an edited pre-recording during the live briefing.

Don’t Forget the Follow-Up

Require registration for the event as well as to view the recording. This allows you to follow up with selected targets deemed to be of high importance.

In fact, webinar systems allow presenters to see company names, titles, who asked each question, how long attendees stayed logged in, and how many times they viewed the recorded content afterward. All this information helps identify appropriate targets for follow-up.

Check out this advice for engaging with your prospects.

Case Study

Fuentek was helping a client commercialize a suite of software and patented technologies to improve non-destructive evaluation of composite structures. In developing the licensing strategy, we recommended holding a webinar-based briefing. The client agreed, and here’s what happened:

  • In marketing the briefing, we posted in key LinkedIn discussion groups to efficiently reach the target audience.
  • Our tech transfer consultant and publications specialists worked extensively with the inventor to focus his presentation on the technology’s benefits, capabilities, and other relevant details.
  • We posted the recording and answers to questions raised during the briefing, notifying attendees and other invitees of the online information.
  • Our strategic follow-up with targeted attendees focused on high-priority prospects.

We had more than 100 attendees who actively engaged during the Q&A period. Several expressed keen interest in licensing when we conducted our post-briefing follow-up. For example, one company engaged with our client to have the inventor test samples, which led to a non-exclusive license for the software. Another attendee eventually entered into negotiations for an exclusive patent license.

It’s worth noting that Fuentek’s “recipe” for briefings has been applied with great success for other clients as well. In fact, the most recent briefing led to three signed deals.

Get Results

Technology briefings provide consistent and fair information dissemination. They also allow the TTO to find the best combination of licensees/partners while accelerating the deal-making process. Following the above advice will help ensure your briefings are successful.

If you want help in marketing your technologies — either through briefings or via other means — contact us today to discuss how Fuentek can support your TTO.