More Research on Tech Transfer

Most academic administrators and researchers who look into entrepreneurship on campus focus on technology transfer — namely, how scientific advances made at the university can be commercialized to a) aid economic growth, thus letting society/the economy benefit from knowledge accumulation and b) provide $$ for the school and the professors.

Here is an update from the National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship on tech transfer and a new tech transfer initiative from the Kauffman Foundation.

Inspired by positive results from a joint study with the Max Planck Institute of Economics, the Kauffman Foundation has formed a network that will bring ‘proof of concept’ centers together to move university innovations into the marketplace. These centers provide seed funding to university-based early stage research as well as a host of advisory services and educational initiatives to assist students and faculty with market research, mentoring, development and testing of innovations, preparation of business plans and connections to the commercial market.

Click here to read more from Kauffman, download the report, and watch a video on the initiative.

I still believe the focus on tech and tech transfer is a bit misguided. It creates bureaucracies — TTO offices and centers — to do the job of entrepreneurs. I don’t know if this will lead to success.

2 thoughts on “More Research on Tech Transfer

  1. [“I still believe the focus on tech and tech transfer is a bit misguided. It creates bureaucracies — TTO offices and centers — to do the job of entrepreneurs. I don’t know if this will lead to success.”]

    Actually, I think if the OTT office is set up properly it can function to advocate and promote university research that is ready for commercialization to “ready” entrepreneurs. The reason that the focus tends to be on OTT and may appear misguided is because many universities struggle with connecting to the entrepreneurs that can really understand the commercial value of early-stage research. You need a staff of experts on the University side in the OTT office that have an intimate knowledge of the industry, the research, and the “disruption” that the research or technology could create in the marketplace. So, at some Universities, they have brought in former industry experts, researchers, entrepreneurs, and even VC’s into the Tech Transfer Office to help them better understand the potential of university research. Since the late 90’s and legislation, Universities have begun to take notice of the vacuum that was existing between early-stage research and commercialization. OTT offices were started and created as a means of accelerating research into the marketplace. The continuing problem is finding “ready” entrepreneurs who understand the commercial value of early-stage research. At Mason, we actively promote our available technologies through newsletters and even a blog with an RSS feed to capture new technologies posted. We have MBA student groups develop marketing plans around University technologies and even this semester got a group of students interested in forming a company. The work of the MBA students is vital in helping the OTT staff explain the potential market impact of a technology to entrepreneurs. There are lots of other activities taking place to promote the technologies, but the point is that it does take a group of people. What has to continue to occur is the dialogue between the OTT staff, industry, entrepreneurs, and VC’s. Universities that do not have a Tech Transfer Office struggle tremendously to push out their technologies because you don’t have a dedicated group of experts working to push it out there.

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