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Yissum transforms its website to reflect the evolution of tech transfer


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: September 26th, 2018

The evolution of tech transfer over the past 25 years, and particularly within the past five, demands an approach to marketing that reflects that evolution. That’s a key assertion behind the new website launched this summer by Yissum, the Technology Transfer Company of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (www.yissum.co.il). The site, according to Tamir Huberman, Yissum CIO and head of marketing, “contains an extraordinary and groundbreaking database,” which, he declares, breaks new ground in marketing available technologies.

Throughout the recent evolution of tech transfer, says Huberman, TTOs have marketed their technologies through an emphasis on their patent holdings. However, he notes, the latest changes in the field – which he dubs Tech Transfer 4.0 — have made that strategy less effective. TTO marketing, he says, has generally failed to keep up with the changes.

“In the past, industry collaborations were mostly focused around a single project — single researcher funded,” Huberman observes. “Today, [companies] really like long-term collaboration; they’re not as interested in existing patents.”

And that is really where the concept for the website change came about. “Typically, if we sit with companies today such as Samsung, Google, Apple and the like they would rarely ask us what patents we have available, but rather they would ask us who are your experts in Machine Learning, Cyber or any other field,” Huberman observes.

Yissum found it was very difficult to locate researchers based on their research interests when the website was organized around patents — especially since a researcher who had no patents would not appear on the website at all. “We ended up trying to show them researchers, but we did not have a platform to send,” says Huberman. “We ended up sending links to personal websites, which was very difficult and, to me, non-professional. That ignited the idea of adding researchers — not around a single project, but multiple projects.”

He says the larger companies Yissum works with (which also include Intel, Coca-Cola, P&G, and Lockheed Martin) “really liked” that approach. About three years ago, Huberman had another “Aha!” moment when one of those companies ended up signing a research deal with a philosopher. “Obviously, we’d never heard of them; their work was completely theoretical,” he shares. “So I said to myself, we must showcase all our researchers on our website.

“We had gotten it wrong; we had patents at the front end,” he continues. “Researchers should be placed in the front.” Which is what the current website does; it makes the researcher the focal point. On the home page you can still search by keywords, but, for example, a keyword search for “machine learning” within patented technologies would produce links to just two results. But by using the “Find an Expert” search engine, the search results increase to 20 researchers — including those from the computer science, humanities, medical and statistical fields.

Users are also automatically linked to all of the researcher’s published work and any articles that have been written or media that has appeared about the researcher. Once users find information they want to retain, they can create a “briefcase” of their findings — much like an online shopping cart.

A detailed article on the new Yissum website appears in the September issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and get the full article, along with the publication’s 11-year archive of best practices and success strategies for TTOs, CLICK HERE

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