Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Study examines how TTOs determine which inventions to support


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 5th, 2019

In a new study published in Research Policy, a research team led by associate professor Reddi Kotha, of the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at Singapore Management University, investigated how faculty inventions are selected to receive support from their technology transfer offices (TTOs).

Kotha says the study sought to determine the factors driving investment decisions in TTOs, and notes that the answers can inform a range of situations that require decision-making concerning how to deploy limited resources. For university TTOs with numerous inventions to choose from, “there is very little information to make the decision, making it quite a ‘leap of faith,'” Kotha noted.

Using a quantitative, top-down, textual analytical technique, the researchers studied nearly 700 invention evaluation reports from the oldest university TTO in the world over a seven-year period from 1998 to 2005. Each was written by a TTO staffer with domain knowledge.

“There are two dimensions that our evaluators think about — feasibility and desirability. Feasibility is whether the outcome can be achieved, and desirability is how useful the invention is, whether it can change people’s lives,” Kotha said.

The study showed that assessments which indicated doubt and lack of maturity were associated with a 10% decline and 15% decline in budgetary support, respectively. In terms of desirability, background familiarity and scientific complexity was associated with a 13% and 10% improvement in budgetary support, respectively.

“Conventional thinking is that we have to take a bet on the individual for early ideas. But we also need to develop some expertise in thinking about how to evaluate novel ideas beyond relying heavily on the signal of past reputation,” Kotha comments. “Valuable ideas can come from anybody, and young scientists and young entrepreneurs may have truly transformative inventions and ideas…. We in management theory would like to develop models and tools to access, evaluate and carry forward good ideas, from whoever they may come from.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Invention Disclosure Management: Proven Strategies for Boosting Quantity and Assessing Quality is a collection of distance learning programs that target key disclosure management challenges, including faculty outreach and engagement, effective triage, and standardizing post-disclosure activity and communication. For complete details, CLICK HERE.

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