Technology Transfer & Commercialization
Not every product opportunity emerges from a corporate research and development program. Researchers working in universities and hospitals often come up with breakthrough ideas while they are pursuing basic research. These ideas may have the potential to become new products or improvements to existing products.
Of course, universities, hospitals, and other research organizations often do not have the structure or mandate to develop commercial products and technologies. That's why they establish Technology Transfer programs to help identify opportunities, manage disclosures, and work with commercial organizations. Technology transfer groups are established to confront a number of key challenges:
- Gathering potential innovations, or disclosures from every field of research the organization is engaged in.
- Identifying which disclosures have commercial potential.
- Developing expertise in commercial considerations, such as market opportunity, patentability, need, and technical viability .
- Managing the portfolio of disclosures so that strong opportunities are pursued and weaker options set aside, within the technology transfer budget.
Managing a technology transfer program can bring its own challenges, of course. A technology transfer officer needs to design and manage his program to be as effective and efficient as possible. A robust program will achieve a number of objectives:
- It will be a rigorous, repeatable, standardized process that stakeholders will find transparent and fair.
- It will help researchers develop their disclosures in terms of commercial potential.
- It will promote awareness and encourage researchers to disclose - reduce the perceived pain associated with making a disclosure.
- Participants must be able to meaningfully compare new disclosures with each other and also against past disclosures
- It must be easy to quickly assess the entire disclosure portfolio.
- It must not make unsustainable demands on the time of the participants, particularly the reviewers, who may come from outside the organization.
A robust technology transfer program can meet a great many needs, for the entire organization and for specific roles within.
- For researchers, a good tech transfer process makes easier and less time-consuming to provide disclosures. They can have confidence that their ideas will get a fair evaluation and that they will get specific and meaningful feedback.
- For those who assess the disclosures, a rigorous process means they get higher quality disclosures that are easier and faster to read and assess. Each disclosure will have complete and relevant information included. They will find it easier to provide feedback on the proposal, both on specific elements and as a whole
- For the technology transfer officer, who is responsible for the entire process, a rigorous approach helps the program meet its objectives. It will will ensure that helps keep morale of reviewers and researchers. Give good feedback to researchers. Reduce complaints and time spent answering question on decisions. Gives a written response to researchers. Identify possible weaknesses in disclosures. Help harness expertise - business, e.g. Ability to provide meaningful reports and justify recommendations.
- CEO - maximize value from organization. More effectively manage IP portfolio. Accountability - answerable to stakeholders, etc. Demonstrate fairness to researchers.
Case Studies in Technology Transfer & Commercialization:
- Alberta Agricultural Research Institute
- Venture Capital: Early stage investment selection
- University of Alberta: MBA entrepreneurship course
- Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research – Technology Commercialization Program
- Alberta Value Added Corporation Ltd.
- Venture capital: Technology Commercialization Assessment