Navigating the Nuances of Complex Collaborative University-Industry Partnerships: Key Best Practices
Over the past several years, I have noticed an emerging trend in university-industry partnerships, and it has begun to create new challenges for technology transfer professionals. Companies are beginning to forge ever more complex collaborations with universities and university consortia while relying less often on the more standard agreements, such as sponsored research agreements (SRAs) and material transfer agreements (MTAs). These collaborations may….
This past spring, I had the pleasure of serving as a panelist at the Lab-to-Market Inter-Agency Summit convened by the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP). This past week, the panelists’ recommendations were released (download the report), and they’re getting some well-deserved attention. And they deserve some elaboration. As summit co-chairs Joe Allen and Diane Palmintera wrote in an article published on Innovation Daily, the summit had an unusual format, with…
This Friday, April 19th, at 1pm EDT I will be a panelist in a webinar called “Open Innovation Best Practices for University Tech Transfer.” Sponsored by Technology Transfer Tactics, this 1-hour webinar is designed to help universities be successful in open innovation partnerships. A paradigm shift toward open innovation is underway among universities. This shift has been coming for a while, as R&D budgets have been cut year after year. Universities had to employ concepts like open innovation in order to streamline processes.
Just before Christmas, I had the privilege of attending the annual conference of the University Technology Enterprise Network (UTEN), an organization dedicated to (in their words) “professionalizing and advancing science and technology commercialization in Portugal.” As the AUTM® vice president for Strategic Alliances, I was invited to participate on a panel discussing technology transfer networks. I have to say, it was an enlightening meeting, and the lessons learned and best practices shared have value beyond Portugal. So brace yourself: this is a long post, but there was lots of good information to share!
One of the items in my last “worth reading” post — Stefan Lindegaard’s blog post “Are Universities, Tech Transfer Units Open Innovation Losers?” — is getting a lot of attention, including a Technology Transfer Tactics blog post. Given the discussions in several tech transfer groups across LinkedIn (including AUTM, Techno-L, and Technology Transfer – Valorisation), I’d like to offer some further thoughts here. Open innovation refers to the spin-in as well as the spin-out of ideas, technology, etc. Approaching these two “directions” in concert and proactively — what we’ve called Symbiotic Innovation — is an essential component for revolutionizing technology transfer.
Proactively and Strategically Managing Innovation (or Tips for Avoiding the Tech Transfer Chasm): A Free Webcast
There’s a big difference between how research organizations and private corporations communicate and think about technology transfer. Research organizations tend to focus on how to manage and share their intellectual property (IP). Technologies are often embryonic, development moves at a deliberate pace, and the focus isn’t so much on developing a product as on developing the next innovation. For industry, IP has to serve a purpose and advance the bottom line, whether it’s creating new revenue sources, improving net profits, or moving products quickly into the marketplace. Research organizations that act proactively can…
As I get ready for Fuentek’s new webinar on implementing open innovation best practices in technology transfer offices (TTOs), I am reminded of conversations I’ve had with a wide range of tech transfer professionals over the years. What has struck me time and again in these discussions is the broad applicability of open innovation concepts to tech transfer and the value of implementing these concepts in a proactive manner. Despite the fact that government, university, and corporate TTOs vary in their missions, perspectives on innovation, goals/metrics, and economic and entrepreneurial climates, they all have the potential to benefit from implementing sound principles related to open innovation.
There have been a lot of articles recently about universities giving away IP rights for free. The specifics of each vary, and most seem to have advantages that will help accelerate the transfer of technology. But some go further than others.
While everyone likes a sprint, the reality is that tech transfer with the greatest impact usually is a marathon. Negotiating effective tech transfer agreements can seem as arduous, and there are so many steps along the path where you can trip or even fall. But taking the longer view always has better benefits for you and your potential licensee/partner. That’s the focus of today’s Stories from the Field post.
Recent experience with a Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA) has underscored the potential miscommunication that often keeps universities and corporations from peacefully coming to successful negotiations. So, I’d like to take some time to weed through what each party can (and cannot do) and why, in an effort to clear up some misconceptions and potential frustrations.