Implementing Systems for Technology Transfer Offices around the Globe

With the growing international interest in implementing an enterprise level system for a Technology Transfer Office (TTO), in the next few issues of InfoEdge I will be discussing some points to consider as one looks to obtaining management buy-in for this venture.

To start, business processes are as much the same as they are different if you look at a cross section of institutions that perform the technology transfer or commercialization function.  Experience has shown that there are guiding principles and practices that are always the same regardless of the size or maturity of the institution or TTO.  This is both a blessing and a curse when system justification is required, but does provide a foundation from which to base an argument for system approval

In the first of this series, we will briefly discuss the buy-in required for an institution to implement an enterprise level system for TTO based on the fact that only a small percentage of disclosures and patents end up generating money.  In future articles, I will discuss the comparison of different institutions’ implementation and configurations as well as business processes which may or may not exist that will assist with the argument of justification.

As with all implementations or changes in processes or systems, executive sponsorship and support is critical. The TTO is viewed as a department that requires funding to manage the administration of the records but doesn’t provide any real value to the institution overall, in that, strictly speaking, the office is not a profit-center and does not necessarily pay for itself.  The key to the justification argument in this case is not what the TTO brings to the table, but rather what would happen if the TTO did not exist at all.  In order to change the perception of the office to the other areas of the institution, arguments in the form of metrics that show potential mismanagement and the loss in revenue or reputation that may cause.

All too often, institutions have excellent examples of what would happen if due care is not taken with disclosures and the subsequent cases and filings.  An example is where grape germination technology was not protected at the institution, the inventor patented it privately, the institution lost out on the revenue and status. Use these test cases to highlight what could go wrong and the repercussions based upon that.

It is not always about the highlighting the negative.  Remember, in the world of system justification, it is important to not the success stories that an particular office has had and how those success stories could be more numerous should an electronic of centralized system be put in place to enforce policies and procedures an ensure the royalties that every institution is striving for baesd on their development in technology.  Showing the bad and then countering with the good can create the discussion points that you need in order to carry the process and the justification to success

In next month’s article, we will compare business processes across offices in terms of justification,  In the meantime, if you should have any questions regarding this article or some of the international technology transfer implementations already undertaken by InfoEd Global, please contact Stanley Duncan at



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