Tech Transfer Central

Technology Transfer Tactics, June 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, June 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the June 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 6, June 2022

  • Rogue EIRs and mentors can bring trouble, need limits and guardrails. Entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentors play important roles in guiding university start-ups, but the same independent streak responsible for their success can sometimes lead them to do things that are contrary to the university’s policies or expectations. Experts say tech transfer programs need to establish guidelines and guardrails to keep EIRs in their lane.
  • Don’t let “dead equity” complicate a cap table and stymie start-up growth. “Dead equity” can be a major red flag when potential investors look at a university start-up’s cap table, prompting concerns about whether founders are still contributing to the company or just along for the ride.
  • $3 million infusion for gap funding promises a surge in Cornell’s innovation pipeline. Ignite, Cornell University’s gap funding series, will expand its innovation pipeline in the coming years using a $3 million annual infusion of funding from the provost’s office and a handsome donation from alum Peggy J. Koenig, chair of the private equity firm Abry Partners.
  • Emory TTO’s innovation awards: A centerpiece of campus culture-building. Earlier this spring, staffers at Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer in Atlanta, GA, breathed a sigh of relief as they held the Annual Celebration of Technology and Innovation at the Emory Conference Center.
  • Harvard and VC partner on internships focused on underrepresented. Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development is going beyond its typical responsibilities to help boost diversity in innovation with a targeted internship program in partnership with a local VC.

Posted June 15th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, May 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, May 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the May 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 5, May 2022

  • NFTs and NILs hit tech transfer: Some opportunity, some hype. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) commodities are driving a digital marketplace of everything from art to memes and athlete images, and now university tech transfer programs are getting involved with promoting their institutions and athletes — and their trademarks and other IP. It’s a brave new world and the trailblazers are finding out what it takes to work in this arena.
  • Treat those ‘undercooked’ disclosures with TLC and reap benefits later. Tech transfer pros are expert in handling disclosures and navigating them through the various paths to commercialization. But what about innovations whose disclosures clearly indicate they are not yet ‘ready for prime time’ — what’s the best way to handle them?
  • AUTM 2022 coverage: In royalty distribution matters, expect the unexpected. Listening to a group of tech transfer operations staff filling a small conference room at the recent AUTM annual meeting in New Orleans for a session on royalty distribution, you might wonder whether these professionals had degrees in law, business, math, science, accounting, or military strategy — or all of the above.
  • WiSys creates a VentureHome for entrepreneurs at smaller campuses. WiSys VentureHome. It may sound like a new GPS system, but it’s actually a natural extension of a core principle known as “the Wisconsin Idea” — shared by the University of Wisconsin (UW) System and WiSys — that what happens on UW campuses should enhance people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the campus.
  • ‘Dare to Discover’ campaign at U Iowa creates buzz for research and tech transfer. TTOs looking for a new and impactful way to boost their brand in the community and generate goodwill among their early career researchers may want to take a page — or a banner — from the University of Iowa’s “Dare to Discover” campaign.
  • OIG clarifies anti-kickback rules for MD inventors with start-up equity. A recent advisory opinion from the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) represents good news for physician inventors and the start-ups in which they have received ownership interests.

Posted May 16th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, April 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the April 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 4, April 2022

  • Ohio State’s scoring system guides TTO in identifying and mitigating risk. A detailed risk management tracking and scoring system, like the one implemented at The Ohio State University two years ago, “is an essential activity for any TTO,” asserts Kevin Taylor, associate vice president for technology commercialization there. The OSU system, used not only to measure risk but also to show the path towards mitigation of those risks, “has been invaluable,” he says. “It has empowered us, empowered the institution, and built confidence in our ability to manage risk.”
  • Two new university venture funds look to change the start-up landscape. The University of Washington, a public, PAC-12 research ‘powerhouse,’ has about 60,000 total students with campuses in Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma. Concordia University is a faith-based school owned by the Lutheran Church located in Mequon, WI, with about 5,000 enrolled students. And yet these schools, so totally unalike, have both started venture funds within the past year to help start-ups cross the legendary “Valley of Death” that claims so many of them before they get a chance to grow.
  • How U Missouri’s TTO focuses on improvement. When Lisa Lorenzen moved to the University of Missouri nearly three years ago from a similar job at Iowa State University, she brought a wealth of experience that she was determined to put to good use.
  • UMSL’s DEI accelerator is ‘beacon of hope’ for under-represented founders. TTOs have become heavily focused on incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles into their organizations, looking to move the needle on inventorship and entrepreneurship among under-represented populations. But how the talk about DEI gets translated into practice is still a work in progress for many universities.
  • CU Boulder winds up hyper-accelerator program, shares lessons learned. Earlier this year, officials at the University of Colorado Boulder announced seven teams that completed its Pandemic Hyper-Accelerator for Science and Technology (PHAST) program, which was designed to leverage state and federal funding made available to identify and fund start-ups that address the economic, health, and safety risks caused by the pandemic.

Posted April 15th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, March 2022


Technology Transfer Tactics, March 2022The following is a list of the articles that appear in the March 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 3, March 2022

  • ‘Great Resignation’ hits TTOs with staff shortages, changes to recruiting. Like employers all over the country, tech transfer programs are struggling with staffing shortages caused by what some have called the Great Resignation, the recent trend in which people are leaving their jobs in search of better lifestyles and more money, with employers finding it difficult to replace them.
  • AUTM 2022: Heard in the Halls. The 2022 AUTM annual meeting in New Orleans marked the first time many tech transfer professionals could schmooze in person since the pandemic shut down most if not all face-to-face events, and there was a clear sense of relief among the more than 1,000 attendees gathered there just as Mardis Gras was about to kick into high gear.
  • USF opens up its shelves of available IP to local entrepreneurs. Every research institution has intellectual property that is not being developed or marketed for one reason or another, and it can sit on a shelf for many years and in time lose any value it may have once held. But the University of South Florida is doing something about it.
  • Baylor partners with VC to boost commercialization. In another instance of the growing trend of university TTOs collaborating with third parties to enhance their commercialization efforts, Baylor University and VC firm Waco Ventures (WAVE) are partnering in what they call the Lab-to-Market Collaborative (L2M). The collaboration has already been involved in the launch of three start-ups.
  • Commercialization Engine at Notre Dame grows start-ups with internal de-risking. The Innovation, De-Risking, and Enterprise Acceleration (IDEA) Center at The University of Notre Dame isn’t your typical technology transfer office. In addition to student entrepreneurship programs and competitions and an innovation lab, it offers the Commercialization Engine.
  • Use of LinkedIn helps transform tech portal into marketing resource. Existing and potential industry partners of Yeda Technology Transfer of Weizmann Institute in Israel recently received a LinkedIn message from Yeda’s marketing team inviting them to join its Members portal. Many TTOs use portals to provide a doorway to interested parties, but thanks to an innovative method at Yeda, the typically passive portal approach becomes active marketing as these potential industry partners are identified and contacted more swiftly and with much greater volume than ever before.

Posted March 17th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, February 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the February 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 2, February 2022

  • UMB New Venture Group’s model succeeds in boosting region’s start-up ecosystem. For TTOs in less than vibrant regions of the country for venture capital investments, getting across the Valley of Death can be treacherous, and often deadly without adequate funding. And that’s particularly true for biotech start-ups and others with a long development timeline dependent on significant financial backing, even in the early stages.
  • Standing to sue can be roadblock to pursuing patent infringement claims. License agreements may not always include an adequate transfer of rights that allows the licensee standing to pursue a patent infringement case without joining the university itself in the suit, and a recent court decision shows how important that can be in protecting your IP.
  • Column: As venture deal terms narrow, TTOs should focus on investor quality. Universities — via their tech transfer offices — often receive equity as partial consideration for technologies they license to start-ups. Most of these ventures will raise multiple rounds of financing. As relatively small, junior shareholders, TTOs typically are deal term “takers” with limited ability to impact the deal terms of follow-on rounds. A recent survey of venture deal terms strongly suggests that in most cases this is not a liability, as the remarkable commonality of deal terms reflects limited negotiability in any case.
  • How one university established a way of monitoring IP leakage. Leakage of intellectual property is not usually considered a major issue for most universities, but the prospect of its consequences is compelling enough that many may wonder about it and ponder how to deal with it.
  • NJIT targets entrepreneur gap with a series of diversity-focused programs. While most university TTOs have an ample supply of viable technologies in their intellectual property portfolio to power numerous start-ups, finding entrepreneurial leads often keeps start-up development from reaching its full potential.

Posted February 14th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, January 2022


The following is a list of the articles that appear in the January 2022 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 16, No. 1, January 2022

  • As rules improve, TTOs may want to take another look at crowdfunding their start-ups. Equity crowdfunding first emerged as an option for start-ups when the SEC permitted this form of online fundraising in 2016, but university tech transfer programs and their start-ups have not pursued the option with much fervor. That could change now that the limit on crowdfunding amounts has been increased, and as start-ups report success with crowdfunding not just as a way to draw in cash, but as a bridge to investors who can more directly invest in the company later on.
  • TTOs share new resolutions and revisit old ones for 2022. As the New Year ticked by, TTT spoke with a handful of tech transfer leaders about their resolutions and strategic goals for 2022, and we also checked in with several we interviewed in 2020 to see how they’ve done in the intervening years, and what’s changed about their plans and wishes. Here’s what they had to say.
  • Columbia program takes in non-university ventures to boost impact, grow ecosystem. A new program at Columbia University is calling on the resources of its technology transfer office and others across the university to help launch promising start-ups from outside the university and tap into the school’s considerable expertise in venture creation, as well as its specialized research equipment.
  • UC Riverside’s “Angel Summit” works to build out the local investor ecosystem. Situated on about 1,200 acres on the eastern edge of its namesake city, Riverside is one of the 10 campuses of the University of California system, which combined represents one of the biggest tech transfer operations in the world. However, one thing it has lacked is local angel investors.
  • “Commercialization Counselor” aims to foster innovation culture. Typically, a faculty member would start interacting with their technology transfer office when they have an invention ready for disclosure. But depending on the faculty member’s awareness of the commercialization process and the TTO itself, their first contact may be too early, too late, or just right. It’s that “too late” possibility that presents real problems.

Posted January 17th, 2022

Technology Transfer Tactics, December 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, December 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the December 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 12, December 2021

  • TTOs grapple with new DOE domestic manufacturing rules, some will avoid projects. The Department of Energy’s new policy requiring inventions resulting from DOE-funded R&D to be “substantially manufactured” in the United States has tech transfer leaders studying how to comply, and some are determining that the burden is too great. Those programs are deciding to decline licensing of DOE-funded inventions altogether.
  • U Memphis hires post-docs full-time to start businesses using university IP. Their website calls the Patents2Products program “A New Frontier for Entrepreneurship” — and perhaps it is. The program, which is a partnership between the University of Memphis and Epicenter, a non-profit entrepreneurship hub in the greater Memphis area, hires post-doc fellows on a full-time basis to start businesses using patented IP developed at the university.
  • Grant funding for TTO operations and programs: An overlooked resource. Federal grants are the lifeblood of university research, and TTOs also benefit from the innovations that spring from that funding. But tech transfer offices can benefit more directly by applying for and gaining grant funds to pay for their own internal projects or initiatives, as several TTOs are proving. And as federal agencies have become keen to support innovation and entrepreneurship, ignoring these opportunities may amount to a significant missed opportunity.
  • McGill gap fund uses unique phased approach to support full innovation lifecycle. McGill University in Montreal, Canada, — celebrating its 200th anniversary this year — is taking a decidedly new path to funding its promising technologies and start-ups. Seeking a more effective way to cross the Valley of Death while supporting innovation throughout a technology’s commercialization journey, the university’s TTO created the McGill Innovation Fund (MIF).
  • AI-powered tool lets TTOs expand mentor networks, boost alumni connections. University TTOs looking to expand their expert and mentor networks — and then connect those networks with appropriate start-ups or projects — can spend many hours e-mailing, calling, and engaging in other forms of outreach. It’s a part of the job that can often be left on the back burner when staffing is tight and more pressing work often leaves it sitting on the “to-do” list.
  • Venture Analyst programs employ grad students as a force multiplier. TTOs facing the perennial dilemma of understaffing may want to take a close look at what the Washington Research Foundation (WRF) is doing to assist in evaluating its large portfolio of potential investments in university start-ups.

Posted December 13th, 2021

Technology Transfer Tactics, November 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, November 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the November 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 11, November 2021

  • Start-up board positions must be filled carefully and used appropriately. University leaders have long debated whether it is a good idea to have representation on the board of faculty start-up companies, but for those that favor taking a seat, there are still questions about how to structure that position. Some may want the board seat to be a full voting member, while others may go with an observer seat in which the person does not actively participate.
  • Fred Hutch used this roadmap to dramatically improve its tech transfer results. When Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center spun off Juno Therapeutics, which has become a big player in cell therapy and diagnostics after its acquisition by Celgene and later by Bristol Myers Squibb, they might have assumed that success would lead to a surge of interest among VCs and other partners looking for more innovations.
  • Purdue’s link to Boomerang Ventures illustrates value of third-party help for TTOs. There has been a trend developing recently wherein university TTOs — even large ones — work with outside parties to realize commercialization goals by adding expertise or resources they may not have in-house. A case in point: The newly announced partnership between the Purdue Research Foundation’s (PRF) Purdue Foundry and its Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) and Boomerang Ventures.
  • A fresh take on summer school boosts SUNY’s commercialization pipeline. In popular culture, summer school remains stereotyped as a place for playing catch-up. However, the Albany, NY-based SUNY Research Foundation, which serves The State University of New York and its 64-campus system, is turning that stereotype on its head — even amid a pandemic — via the SUNY Startup Summer School (S4).
  • VCU’s new TTO newsletter sets a high standard in marketing innovations. Virginia Commonwealth University tech transfer office’s new publication, Launchpad, is a textbook example of a TTO creating a high-quality vehicle to publicize the university’s tech talent and commercialization prowess.
  • AUTM, universities support U Michigan in IP assignment dispute. AUTM and a group of prominent universities have filed an amici curiae brief in the case of Omni MedSci, Inc. v. Apple Inc., which addresses how tech transfer programs use general statements in their bylaws and contracts about the assignment of intellectual property rights, and how that relates to specific assignments made for individual inventions.

Posted November 16th, 2021

Technology Transfer Tactics, October 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, October 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the October 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 10, October 2021

  • TTOs continue to adapt to shifting realities of the pandemic. As COVID vaccines became available in early 2021, optimism grew. But, as the Delta variant took hold in the summer of 2021 and now extends into the fall, we wondered how technology transfer offices were handling the resurgence of the virus, how their operations were adjusting, and what they expect in the coming months. We asked 12 TTOs across the country how they were doing.
  • In wake of Omni v. Apple, it’s time to review your IP assignment language again. Tech transfer programs relying on general statements in their bylaws and contracts about the assignment of intellectual property rights may need to reassess whether they are sufficient in light of a recent ruling from a Federal Circuit court. After going through a similar shift after the landmark Stanford v. Roche case a full decade ago, TTOs may want to revisit that assignment language once again.
  • IP attorney’s challenge: Is your TTO developing metrics that matter? There’s certainly a place for traditional TTO metrics like licensing revenues and number of invention disclosures, patent applications, start-ups and issued patents. But they’re not really providing actionable information on whether the office is meeting its goals and optimizing performance in terms of portfolio management, claims IP attorney Tony Gangemi, a partner in Murtha Cullina’s Business & Finance Department and chair of its Intellectual Property Practice Group.
  • U Alaska’s Ambassador Program embeds tech transfer into campus culture. We’ve all heard of student ambassadors, but what about tech transfer ambassadors? At the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) — where a tiny TTO staff needed a way to extend its reach within a limited budget — the concept has taken off and has become woven into its overall culture. The school’s program taps students, faculty and staff as Ambassadors, whose charge is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship as well as raise awareness of the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization (OIPC). And it’s working — the ambassadors are not only making more people aware, but their efforts have significantly increased disclosures.

Posted October 15th, 2021

Technology Transfer Tactics, September 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, September 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the September 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 9, September 2021

  • Sublicensing terms must strike right balance between university rights and licensee needs. With myriad ways to go about sublicensing and the potential for the complications involved spoiling a license agreement, university TTOs may put off the question entirely and wait until the issue is forced by a sublicense request. Or they sometimes will establish sublicensing terms up front that seem simple and straightforward, but which actually hinder revenue opportunities.
  • Direct billing streamlines process and saves TTO time and money. About five years ago, Dr. Martin Haardt at the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto, Canada, had a bit of an epiphany. Haardt, who now is UHN’s senior patent and intellectual property manager for technology development & commercialization, had analyzed various timelines and financial aspects relating to IP protection, licensing, and revenue. The results of his review were intended for office-wide education, but they crystallized for him the amount of time — and, therefore, money — devoted to handling ongoing billing transactions between patent licensees and attorneys.
  • A novel model for getting early-stage life sciences IP across the Valley of Death. Funding for early-stage university life sciences research is a well-known challenge. Some research may get picked up for further development by ad hoc or competitive funding mechanisms, and occasionally some might get picked up into single-asset companies or by early investors. But by and large, a considerable amount of early-stage life sciences research languishes in the “Valley of Death.”
  • Keen attention to detail can prepare you for more successful royalty audits. It may not literally be “found” money, since it is money that is truly owed to your TTO, but a well-run royalty audit can potentially add hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to your bottom line, according to Karen Wang, CPA/CFF, CVA, director at Stout, a firm that focuses on litigation consulting and royalty/contract compliance audits.
  • College Ventures Network aims to level the playing field for student start-ups. A consortium of more than two dozen student-led accelerators from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom this summer launched College Ventures Network, a global coalition that hopes to link student start-up founders with the money and support they need – but so often can’t access.

Posted September 14th, 2021

Technology Transfer Tactics, August 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, August 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the August 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 8, August 2021

  • Fraud allegations after biotech start-up’s IPO put university in a tough spot. The allegations of research fraud by the chief executive of Athira Pharma, a Washington State University biotech spinout developing treatments for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, are raising questions about how a university can protect itself when a company using its licensed IP faces class action lawsuits and a potential investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • U-M finds ‘work-around’ to restrictions on licensees’ use of university brand. Any TTO would be pleased to know that a licensee wants to “brag” about their relationship with the university — but like many things in life, it’s just not that simple.
  • Student consulting club supports Emory’s biotech start-up efforts. While it’s in the DNA of TTOs to help faculty and students get start-ups off the ground through a variety of programs and education, a new extracurricular student club at Emory University in Atlanta that also supports these efforts is a horse of a different color. The Emory Biotech Consulting Club (EBCC) is essentially students helping students and faculty get their start-ups off the ground.
  • U Oregon program seeks to address key challenges faced by women innovators. Gender-specific barriers to success in innovation are being addressed at the University of Oregon through the Women’s Innovation Network, a nine-month program launching in October that’s open to UO faculty members, staff, and students as well as members of the community.
  • UChicago innovation fund adds new matching requirement. Innovation funds investing in university start-ups come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all share a common goal: find the new ventures with the most promise, and hope that at least a few of them make a big exit and solid returns. But how can you increase those odds? In the case of the George Schultz Innovation Fund, it recently began requiring that start-ups get matching funding from accredited institutional investors, betting that confidence among the professionals signals a realistic chance at success and can bring an extra measure of expertise.
  • U Kentucky continues strengthening innovation culture as it builds on success. Suppose your university research grew by 28% over two years, and during that same period, your commercialization and entrepreneurship activity reached record levels. Would you adopt an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ posture?

Posted August 12th, 2021

Technology Transfer Tactics, July 2021


Technology Transfer Tactics, July 2021The following is a list of the articles that appear in the July 2021 issue of Technology Transfer Tactics monthly newsletter.

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Technology Transfer Tactics
Vol. 15, No. 7, July 2021

  • Search for improvement leads to revamp of Duke’s innovation activities. Sometimes when university TTOs decide to engage in self-examination, they are pleasantly surprised to find that things aren’t as bad as they may have thought. Such was the case at Duke University, where the university’s Board of Trustees initiated a study to examine the university’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • UGA hires COI director to tighten up on potential conflicts. With growing interest in commercialization from faculty comes the potential for a concurrent rise in conflicts of interest that can have substantial consequences, so the University of Georgia in Athens is elevating oversight with the addition of its first conflict of interest director.
  • Tell your SBIR/STTR companies about this little-known supplement. Other than classified intelligence, the Technical and Business Assistance (TABA) supplement might be the U.S. government’s best-kept secret. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program supplement is still new and not well-described on federal agency sites or even listed on www.sbir.gov to help people understand what it’s all about. But if TABA isn’t something you’re encouraging your SBIR companies to apply for, they’re leaving money on the table.
  • Pandemic spurs new venture opportunities in CU Boulder “hyper-accelerator” program. During the first months of the pandemic in early 2020, officials at the University of Colorado Boulder noticed how much organic innovation was happening. By March, researchers already had begun looking at new ways of diagnosing, tracking, and understanding the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
  • CRM-based system customized to enhance functionality for TTOs. Recognizing that there’s no need to re-invent the wheel, Tamir Huberman, CIO and head of marketing at Yeda Research & Development Co., Ltd., the TTO of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, has developed a new system for tech transfer management which adds customized tech transfer modules to the out-of-the-box solutions offered by ZOHO CRM.

Posted July 14th, 2021