When it comes to securing partnerships, funding, and interest in technologies and/or startups, there are many circumstances that can halt the process – most of which are outside the sphere of control of the TTO or the PI. [A lot of them can be attributed to the Valley of Death] With all of those unknowns floating, it’s important to take some time and figure out how to execute what is in your sphere of control.
First, the TTO staff can step in, build relationships with PIs, and work with them. A key role of the TTO is to be a viable partner– a place where science-based researchers can turn to for guidance on matters outside of their immediate knowledge; including legal and general business strategy. A successful office will take this opportunity to mentor PIs on how to market and pitch their discoveries.
Regarding helping researchers successfully pitch their ideas: often, it is difficult for inventors to articulate ideas for the commercial applications of their innovations. As with any pitch, lack of focus typically will result in lack of interest from potential investors or collaborators.
Below are some tips on how to help your researchers tell their story better, so when they meet with potential research partners, investors and angels; they will be heard in a meaningful way.
- How did they discover this invention? Where did their idea come from? Was there a gap in the market? Was this an accidental discovery that was applied to a real world problem? Do they have a personal back-story? All of these questions will help your PIs and researchers build the foundation of the story (pitch) and draw in potential partners.
- Help them describe their technology with ubiquitous language. It is easy for scientific researchers to use overly technical jargon – which will be necessary at some point in discussions. One technique is to encourage the use of analogies. Helping your researchers simply and easily describe the technology will help draw more potential collaborators into the discussion.
- Start formulating the reasons why potential partners will want to work with your university and researchers; and quantify your answer. Will you be more cost effective? Provide better results and accuracy? Take less time?
Offer one-on-one sessions or host short seminars for groups of PIs and researchers on how to prepare for their commercialization ventures. The most successful offices approach researchers as partners and vice versa.
If you are a TTO or PI and want to learn more ways to extend your reach in contacting potential industry partners, you can join seed – a community that connects industry with science-based innovation.