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September 2015


By | collaboration, open innovation, Uncategorized | No Comments

Cut through the noise to reach industry technology watch

For technology commercialization professionals, trying to expand their network by reaching out directly to industry tech scouts poses many challenges. Corporate technology watch is bombarded with messages from technology transfer offices, specialized networks, technology search consultants and people promoting deals.

Anyone in the business of commercializing technology has to contend with a lot of other people’s messages, and that means noise. It’s not noise because other people’s messages are junk, but because they compete with attention for the technology topic you’re trying to talk about with a potential licensee or corporate partner, and may create confusion regarding your topic.

So, when they do take a look, how do you ramp up probability of follow-through?

Rather than trying to tackle the whole problem in one little post, here are 3 tips to help you motivate tech scouts to pick up the phone.

1. Make sure the message is brief

Your technology summary needs to rely on very limited text and needs to fit on a page – letter or A4 – or its web equivalent. Forget about multiple pages or 10 turns of the mouse wheel. Making your message partly graphical is also really helpful – using a table, chart or image or two. State development needs so they’re clear and easy to read. If there’s something else to say that’s really essential, but lengthy, put it in as a link.

2. Explain both technology & the economic/competitive argument

Though simply summarizing the technical part of the innovation may register in the tech scout’s mind, tying it to an economic or competitive argument makes it a far more memorable connection. Of course, not all inventions are cheaper, so lower cost may not be one of your arguments at all. Not to worry. Better performance, higher reliability or greater ease of use are all valid competitive arguments. Just as lower production cost makes an innovation competitive, improved performance, reliability or usability can be just very powerful drivers depending on the application vs. what’s currently in the market.

Example 1: Reduces toxic solvent use by 35% with no increase in production costs

Example 2: Single inoculation eliminates patient compliance risk

Example 3: Better durability of coating increases accessible market 300%

3. Lay out next development steps, related resources & timing

For a tech scout, reading about a technology may be enough to get their interest. But you want more, you want follow-up so you can assess fit – and not for your profile to go into the dreaded “also-interesting-pile.”

Tech scouts are just like the rest of us, they’re trying to manage time efficiently, and that means figuring where to spend time and money. So the more clearly you can show the tech scout the current plan for the support for transfer, and potential plan for development and commercialization, the higher the likelihood of follow-up.

Show next steps roadmap: On-going research, development tasks, available resources 

Tech transfer relating to a patent whose lead researchers are available and active in the field has much better prospects for transfer than one whose PIs are gone. When you have that situation, be sure to take advantage of it!

So, if the PI/team who did the patent app that you’re summarizing is available, make that loud and clear. Provide a link to the researcher’s site. But not just yet.

First, summarize the development steps in broad strokes, with associated estimate of time & money.

Example 1: Follow-on bench testing of service life; 4 to 6 months; cost of $25K – 30K
Example 2: Build larger capacity demonstration tool; 8 months; cost of $100K
Example 3: Write protocol for 510(k) study for Class II & III medical device; cost of $50K

Writing next steps for a technology might seem harder than for a startup, so treat it as a technology startup! If you’re not sure what the next steps are, drop the PI an email and ask for how the team would use a $500K grant in three or four bullet points.

And…your startups & spinouts can bring still more and relevant industry traffic to your website. 

Last but not least. Early-stage companies that are licensees or research partners of your institution are a great way to showcase the commercial focus of your research activities and the IP that comes out of it. We’ll walk you through how to leverage your spinouts and startups to bring more industry inquiries in this free eBook.