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Why universities should have a centralized technology transfer organization

In her recent blog post, Laura Schoppe, founder and president of tech transfer consulting company Fuentek LLC, argues that having a centralized tech transfer office (TTO) makes for a stronger university. According to Schoppe, TTOs face enough challenges as it is; one challenge that can be avoided relates to the office’s structure. “Centralization, coordination, and even consolidation of TTOs can go a long way toward making commercialization of university innovations more effective,” says Schoppe.

Here are three specific steps she recommends for universities to ensure that the tech transfer process is as streamlined and efficient as possible.

  1. Centralizing technology managers (TMs) in a single office. This is an alternative to the decentralized, one-office-per-college/department model. The advantages, which university leaders should clearly communicate to the colleges/departments before implementing, include the following:
    • TMs can focus solely on tech transfer tasks rather than unrelated, department-specific tasks.
    • Tech transfer decisions are more likely to be based on market factors rather than internal pressures.
    • TMs can spend less time on administrative errands.
    •  TMs can more effectively share knowledge and cooperate with their tech transfer colleagues.
  1. Coordinating tech transfer across campuses. At universities with multiple campuses, standard technology procedures, shared information technology systems, and a uniform TTO structure can:
    • Ensure clearer communication across campuses;
    • Facilitate consistent decision making and performance evaluation;
    • Present a unified image of tech transfer;
    • Maximize operational and financial efficiencies.
  1. Consolidation across campuses. Putting elements of a multi-campus university’s tech transfer program into a single organization helps avoid unnecessary duplication of tasks, among other inefficiencies, Schoppe maintains. This organization could be service-based, performing tasks such as technology evaluation for all campuses. It could also be a separate, non-university, non-profit entity that manages the entire university’s IP portfolio.

A centralized organization ensures that resources are more rapidly and easily distributed across campuses on an as-needed basis. It also means that tech transfer activities and decisions can better serve the university as a whole, she adds.

Source: fuentek

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