Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Big Boys and Smaller Players of Technology Transfer Offices

One criticism of technology transfer offices is that some may have difficulty making enough money through deals to cover their overhead.  Surely, the benefits of a technology transfer office shouldn’t be limited to revenue generated and there are other opportunities to benefit a university such as practical training opportunities for students.  Moreover, the local community may even benefit through new jobs and tax revenue.  An article in the Recorder came across my desk this morning concerning University of California, San Diego's (UCSD) technology transfer office titled, "UC-San Diego Director Touts its Plethora of Patents." It describes an interview with a technology transfer office at a high performing University of California campus.  Another notice I received concerns a webinar about how smaller technology transfer offices can “overperform.”  

San Diego, located in southern California, has long been known as a hot bed for biotechnology research.  Interestingly, the article notes that of all the University of California campuses the San Diego campus leads in number of patents.  UCSD produces more patents than UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and all of the other UC campuses.  It also produces more deals, more invention disclosures and sometimes even more startups.  The Director, Ruben Flores-Saiib, notes that this is maybe because of the size of the institution and number of departments.  Flores-Saiib, a recent hire at UCSD, also discusses efforts to expand opportunities for UCSD start-ups including a partnership with a VC that evaluates all startups from the university.  He further notes some of the patent prosecution firms UCSD uses as well as stating that they apparently avoid up front licensing fees and are flexible in working with milestones and royalty payments for firms. 
Notably, Tech Transfer Central is offering a webinar (Thursday, February 23rd) on successful strategies by "overperforming" smaller technology transfer offices by technology transfer officers from Wilkes University and Southern Mississippi University.  Here is a description of the webinar:

Our presenters represent two distinctly different tech transfer offices in distinctly different areas of the country. Each presents its own unique set of challenges, but both TTOs have thrived by employing unique methods for doing more with less, and implementing efficiency strategies that allow for high ratios of commercialization per research dollar and per FTE. Whether your office is considered small or not, you’ll come away from this nuts-and-bolts session with dozens of proven strategies for stretching your budget and your staff, and boosting your TTO’s deal flow. Register today for this information-packed webinar filled with best practices and tons of takeaways. Our panelists will discuss:

  • How to navigate your high-dollar budget line items using:
o    Volunteers
o    Interns
o    Alumni
  • How to impact your local and regional start-up community and the economic development goals with a smaller budget and fewer staff
  • Small office strategies for building strong TTO/faculty relationships
  • Ecosystem development in smaller markets
  • Strategies for filling the funding gap in flyover regions
  • How a variety of approaches to commercialization benefit smaller ecosystems:
o    Traditional licensing
    • Entrepreneurial focus
  • Engaging corporations in smaller regions
  • Tactical and strategic methods for success with limited resources         
  • Lessons learned and forecast for the future

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