Tech transfer in 2020 and beyond

Over the past couple of months, we’ve attended a number of virtual events focused on how open innovation is evolving in response to the health crisis. One of these events, AUTM’s webinar on “TTO Roles during COVID Rapid Response on Campus,” highlighted how TTOs have shifted their attention to COVID-19 therapeutics, diagnostics, and preventive strategies, and to projects that address other problems the virus has brought. To further understand how the health crisis is affecting the technology transfer community, we recently polled our institutional members. Read on to learn what our TTO members had to say! 

When we asked whether you expect changes to the tech transfer landscape beyond the short term, 58% of you said yes and 42% of you said no. We also wanted to hear your thoughts on the specific changes you expect in both the short-term and the long-term. We asked about changes like ‘work from home’ policies, business travel, budget changes, and your use of online tools during this time. Unsurprisingly, over 93% of you expect to be working from home in the near-term, and 62% believe this trend will persist beyond the next few months. As far as business travel, 91% of you say that you don’t expect to travel over the next few months, though 81% expect travel to resume later this year. In the same vein, 54% of you expect delays to the first meeting with prospective corporate partners, but 86% do not expect these changes to continue beyond a few months. During this period where so many of us are working from home, 33% expect to see reduced program offerings for university entrepreneurs, while only 14% expect this trend to persist beyond a few months. While the economic response to the health crisis is underway, reduced budgets are a concern for about half of you, both in the short- and longer-term. 

The majority of you also agree that new methods for identifying and connecting with industry partners and for other key tech transfer activities will become increasingly important. Some examples include heavier reliance on online open innovation tools, video-conferencing replacing in-person meetings, and relying on email more than in the past. 71% expect to use these new methods in the short term, and 61% expect these changes to persist in the long-term. As far as industry collaboration, over 90% of you expect collaborations with new and existing corporate partners to grow in both the short- and long-term. When it comes to patents, 41% of you expect fewer patents to be filed in the next few months, but only 14% expect them to slow down beyond this period. 

As a whole, the open innovation landscape is certainly shifting in response to the health crisis, in some ways, for the better. You can see the full results of our “2020 tech transfer landscape” survey displayed below. As we continue to adjust and come up with creative ways to forge ahead, we are curious to see what open innovation and technology transfer will look like a year or two from now! 


  1. Interesting inquiry. I woukd like to define short term as the time needed for majority of people to get confidence in the virus control, in a similar way we have control on many other viruses not less dangerous and long term the time spanning from the short term end. I would say that during the short term everybody will be fearing to fall down into the illness. In this first stage of course all social and business habits may change., with many individual shadows relating to age, culture, socio-economical position etc. But I’m confident 95% that everything will become almost as before, with the exception for those behaviours which manifested they superiority during the virus emergency. I believe that our brain is very suited to rase off all negative past experiences unless necessary to keep alive for survival.
    Giuseppe Ponzielli


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