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Jun 30, 2023 D'vorah Graeser

Choosing Your Tech Transfer Dance Partner


In the race to commercialize technology, universities and tech transfer offices are becoming increasingly entrepreneurial. It is not enough to innovate within the technology, now you must be innovative within the transfer of that technology. With competition increasing all the time, those who are innovative in their tech transfer process are landing the best, and most prestigious, deals. But what are they doing differently?


It's all about industry - broadening market searches

While market-pulled innovations feel like safer bets, they can be restricted in their applications and therefore in their potential. Pre-selecting markets and being tunnel-visioned in your approach means missing out on lucky accidents, applications that no one could have imagined. Many innovations will be useful in more than one industry (like factory robot technology being adapted for theme park rides). Those who are thinking differently in their tech transfer processes are using invention extensions to bring their innovations to multiple, even wildly different, markets.

And while we're on the subject:


Looking deeper than market size

Market size is, of course, an excellent indicator of how great the commercial opportunity of your tech is going to be. But it can only tell you so much, especially if you are looking to land the very best, most prestigious deals. Once you’ve clarified market size, look too at market growth in the estimated future compound annual growth rate - a low growth market may not be investing as heavily in innovation. Look at the general attitude toward innovation in that market - will potential partners be sluggish or push the potential of the commercialization? And finally, look at the innovation trends of companies within that market - are their budgets directed at internal innovation, or are they active partners with other companies and universities?

But of course it's all about more than just markets, it's also about...


Finding the best partners

Once again, tech transfer innovators are thinking broadly when it comes to picking partners for commercialization. Focusing on certain partners in certain industries for your specific IP means that you only have the pick of the partners in that small niche - when there are so many other, potentially better, partners in other markets. 

And now a subject near and dear to my heart:


Waiting to patent

The temptation is to protect IP fast, before heading into market research. However, we recommend understanding the commercialization opportunities first. It’s important to understand the market so that different patent applications can be written for different contexts. If you patent your tech for one market, it may not be protected for others, thus limiting the potential deals you can make. Having a broad understanding of multiple potential markets can make your patent, and therefore your commercial potential, stronger.


Positioning your IP for a deal

So tech transfer innovators are strong in their groundwork, but they are also strong in their marketing. They understand the importance of talking to potential partners in their language, and focusing on why they should care about this IP. A key way of doing this is contextualizing their innovations. In order for someone to invest, they need to feel certain; and in order to feel certain, they need to understand it and its potential. Data and technology isn’t enough, they need the context of real world application, and real world results for them. It means they don’t need to assume how this will benefit the end user and the value add of the innovation because they can see it. (We go into more detail on contextualizing and positioning your IP here if you’re seeking more depth on this topic).


You may be wondering who has the time or resources to do all this, and certainly being innovative in tech transfer often means being innovative in your time management too. But it also means using tools like RocketSmart’s AI to automate much of this process - it will broaden your searches, find best partners, search multiple markets and even suggest a marketing pitch.



Photo by Remi Walle on Unsplash
Published by D'vorah Graeser June 30, 2023