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“Commercialization Guide” makes an impact as outreach tool for Penn


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: October 11th, 2017

The Penn Center for Innovation’s (PCI) Commercialization Guide, published in early June, is a publication designed to serve as a “one-stop- shop” for faculty and graduate students interested in learning about the key steps in the commercialization process, and is considered an important part of PCI’s outreach efforts. “One of the key elements [for creating the publication] was making what we do and how to work with us a lot more transparent to faculty,” says Laurie Actman, PCI’s chief marketing, communications and program officer.

 “There were a couple of important reasons” for creating the comprehensive 44-page, stylish guide, adds John Swartley, MBA, PhD, PCI’s managing director. “One, we’ve undergone significant change as an organization within Penn; in close to five years we’ve transformed ourselves from a more or less traditional tech transfer practice into a center for innovation.” As part of that transformation, he explains, the department has greatly expanded the types of resources and services it provides — not only for faculty but also for the private sector, entrepreneurs and investors.

 “We wanted to make sure various ‘customers’ were aware of just how broad that range of activities was, and how much was available to them and how to access it,” says Swartley. “We were also aware there was demand from the various clients to better understand what was available, so this became a good way to initiate and engage in that conversation — if nothing else as a conversation starter.” As part of the distribution, he notes, the plan is to get the guide into the hands of every new faculty member.

To successfully put together such a guide requires a good deal of collaboration, Actman says. “Tech transfer, in some of the best circumstances, is complex, so a great way to [explain it to faculty and others] was to produce for the first time an all-in-one publication. It was a collaboration of colleagues at PCI in various elements of tech transfer, and the Office of General Counsel was a close collaborator and very helpful. We wanted to make sure everything was consistent with how we do this work,” she notes.

“We tried to include all the key steps and processes and policies that impact how to do the work,” Actman continues. “That’s why we talked about the patent policy — ‘enabling legislation’ creates the sandbox for what we can do. COI was included because faculty needs to know about it and can get tripped up if they do not understand the key aspects. We also included how to do start-ups and key programs, and some of our marketing and programmatic efforts to position IP. A lot of faculty members are curious about how it works, and why it takes two to three years.”

She adds that the guide is designed “to symbolize that we want to be proactive and visible to faculty and make it easier if they are a low-key customer — or more important, a new customer — to encourage faculty and make it seem less daunting to tackle.”

A detailed article on Penn’s Commercialization Guide, including links to the entire guide, appears in the September issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the full article, plus get 24/7 access to the publication’s 10-year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE.

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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