Tuesday, 11 March 2008

New kid on the block

Technology Transfer Tactics is the title of a journal (details and access to sample copy here), which describes itself as a "new monthly newsletter filled with expert guidance and practical, how-to strategies for technology transfer professionals!". Setting aside my prejudice against the use of exclamation marks in B2B advertising material, I took a look at it. Published out of Naples, Florida rather than Naples, Italy its style and content reflect a work that is written by Americans for an American market. But then, America continues to lead this field, and would continue to play a major tole in tech transfer even if it didn't.

TTT promises to address issues that greatly concern readers of this weblog, seeking to help readers
"implement improved valuation methods and models ... strengthen licensing, royalty, and joint venture agreements ...evaluate and prioritize IP for commercial potential ... tighten post-license performance monitoring ... develop and manage lucrative spin-outs and start-ups ... find and win more grants and tap into outside funding sources",
among other things. This rather reminded me of advertisements for dietary health supplements that claim to tone up muscles, burn up fat, purge the digestive system, sweeten the breath, restore hair growth and improve performance in the sort of activities that one does not expect to read about on an IP Finance blog.

I've always felt that a problem with developing sensible tech transfer-related literature is that there two very distinct interests involved: there's the top end, consisting of the decision-making, and there's the bottom-end, consisting of the people who make it happen and see that it keeps on happening. In large corporations there's often a large gulf, in terms of training, professional expertise and even communication, between the two camps, while in small businesses, start-ups and so on those two interests are often combined in the same person. My hunch is that TTT will be of most benefit to the smaller business, providing a monthly drip-feed of accessible news, well-explained technical terms and general background. However, a US$597 annual subscription suggests that it's aimed more at the bigger entity, where increased specialisation may mean that TTT is too wide in terms of its scope but insufficiently deep in terms of its analysis to attract a faithful following.

Of particular interest to readers of this blog is a piece on option funds I quote from it in order to give readers some idea of style and content. This piece commences:
"Establishing an “option fund” -- a lower risk investment vehicle that allows angels to increase their stake in a technology only after certain developmental milestones are met -- appears to hold promise as a way of increasing early-stage funding for university innovations and getting more research into the marketplace.

The pioneer of the newfangled financing vehicle is Patrick Jones, PhD, president-elect of the Association of University Technology Managers and the head of the University of Arizona’s tech transfer office in Tucson. Since 2001, Jones has been working with Desert Angels, a local investment group that is closely associated with the university, to put an option fund into place. He believes the fund’s risk-sensitive design will get more angels to the table at a time when their market expertise and entrepreneurial know-how can make a crucial difference to budding projects".
This piece starts on the front cover, then continues over pages 11, 12 and 13 -- ideal for the purpose of making sure that readers are tempted by the sight of bits of articles they aren't reading, but infuriating for environmentalists who will be tutting about the fact that fewer sheets of A4 could have been required for photocpoying the same piece.

If any readers of this weblog are subscribing to TTT and can offer any comments concerning its utility or anything else, we'll be delighted to hear from them.

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