Tech Transfer Central
Tech Transfer eNews

Tech Transfer E-News provides a weekly round-up of current news and information in the world of tech transfer, delivered every Wednesday (sign up here). It is published by Technology Transfer Tactics newsletter, which is available as a monthly subscription. For more information or to order a subscription click here, or for a sample issue, click here.

To get more disclosures, double down on faculty outreach and communication

A detailed article containing best practices and guidance on faculty outreach and communication appears in the February issue of Technology Transfer Tactics. To subscribe and access the complete article, or for further subscription details, click here.

Maintaining good relationships with faculty is a key function of tech transfer, but the execution can be less than ideal when other tasks seem to dominate the limited staff time and energy available. Rededicating the tech transfer program to some fundamental — but often neglected — faculty relations strategies can result in more disclosures and better commercialization experiences for your key constituents — your researchers.

The Office of Technology Licensing at Georgia Tech in Atlanta recently sought to improve the reputation of the office among faculty, says Director Mary Albertson, CLP, RTTP, who has been with the program for a year and a half. The office was understaffed for years and customer service became less of a priority than it should have been, she says.

Albertson and her team wanted to correct that and increase the office’s profile among faculty, educating them about the TTO’s role and the resources that are available to them.

In outreach efforts, Albertson made it clear to faculty that the office was there to serve them — even if it hadn’t done a great job of communicating that in the past. “I didn’t get up there and say we’re doing better than we were before, because you have to prove that. But basically, we were telling them the things that we’re doing now that we hadn’t been doing for years,” she says. “I would have one-on-one meetings with department chairs and get them to understand what we offer, while also trying to get a feel from them about what they thought was important to their department.”

After an initial set of meetings, Albertson would try to get invited to faculty meetings to give 15-minute presentations with five minutes for questions. Those were useful in gaining awareness for the TTO, but Albertson wanted opportunities for faculty and tech transfer staff to interact more fully. To do that, the office started holding lunch & learn sessions for different departments, as well as office hours for certain groups within a department.

And then there’s the “hanging out” approach. “I have a couple of my licensing associates go out every other week to certain groups and hang out for a couple hours. Two things happen there. One is [it brings in] some foot traffic, with people stopping by who want to know what we do,” she says. “The other thing is people we have interacted with here in the technology licensing office will stop by to ask more questions or talk about their invention. It just gives us a presence that’s very personal for their group.”

Counting everything from meetings with department chairs to office hours, Albertson’s team held more than 30 such events in six months in a concerted outreach effort. The number of disclosures by new lead inventors jumped from 22% the previous fiscal year to 33%, which Albertson sees as an indicator of success with the outreach efforts.

“I was very happy. The metric my boss was looking for was the number of disclosures, and I said, ‘Well, if we want a more direct correlation, let’s look at the number of new inventors,’” she says.

Click here to continue reading this article with a subscription to Technology Transfer Tactics. Already a subscriber? Click here to log in.

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News