Fundamentals of Technology Transfer

Amy Firth, Marketing & Communications Manager reports back from the training course which took place April 21-24 in Peterborough.

This was a great course - by half-way through, I'd almost reconsidered my chosen career in favour of jumping ship for technology transfer, thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of both delegates and trainers.

By the end, I had a new appreciation for the scope and complexity of the role. Phil Elstob, Course Director and Business Development Executive for Cancer Research Technology and Newcastle University co-ordinated a lively three days of discussion and learning.

Andy Walsh, Manager of Health Care at Cambridge Enterprise, began by highlighting that technology transfer professionals need to not only have the level of understanding to know what technical questions to ask, but the imagination to think about what can be achieved with a new idea coupled to the ability to persuade and lead academics towards identified goals. With case study discussions involving cheese-powered cars and bullet-proof ski-boots, imaginations were certainly stimulated during this course!

The course provided a whistle-stop tour of the world of Technology Transfer, including how to use design techniques to aid the technology transfer process, when to use licensing agreements, non patent IP, design rights, how to market your technology transfer activities, and finished off with a healthy dose of negotiation skills training.

A point often emphasised was that it is the skills of the individual that will make or break deals. As one of the trainers said, "When an impersonal analysis is done of the market, IP, and opportunity, success ultimately comes down the individuals involved."

This thought was echoed by industry leader Louise Cruickshanks of DCC Health and Beauty Solutions Ltd, who commented, "Technology transfer professionals are relationship managers and counsellors who mediate between commercial needs and university pulls". The role of technology transfer professional as "Matchmaker and Educator" came across very clearly.

Other thoughts taken away from the day included: We're not here to protect IP - we're here to drive the uptake of innovative properties coming out of research. IP is the means to an end - it's easy to patent, but is it strategic? Make sure expectations are set at the beginning - with all partners involved, on both sides of the academic/commercial fence.

None of the world-leading technologies we take for granted today (ultrasound, electron microscope, polio vaccine, liquid crystal displays) would have improved society if the private sector hadn't invested cash at some point in the process - the commercial world has to be involved.

The course provided an excellent grounding for anyone new to technology transfer, and it was a pleasure to meet so many delegates with a real enthusiasm for the activity.

The next Fundamentals course runs in October. To book, please visit: