Date: May 03, 2017 Posted by: Elysia Cooper

The way in which Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) are measured and evaluated is not consistent. Typing this into Google will result in roughly 60,000 hits but from opening a few of the publications it is clear that there is not a clear ranking system. However, the Milken Institute recently published its findings in a report titled The Best Universities for Technology Transfer.

What I appreciate about this report is the use of an index as opposed to others is the use of an index. It is not perfect, but on the right path to looking at the overall output holistically as opposed to more traditional metrics i.e. licensing income because that metric does not necessarily show the true success of an office.

Milken looks at the following criteria:

TTO Index.png

This index takes into account averages and the average per number of researchers, which helps level the playing field in terms of output by unit (PI) and shows smaller yet equally productive research institutions. This approach of evaluation shows just how much the world of technology transfer is changing and that even in the institutional context, there is adaptation. Traditional income is still a larger percentage than IP issued, but equal to startups formed. This shift in importance on startups is relatively new. You see that many institutions have in recent years created innovation centers or dedicated specialized resources towards to development (and success) of university spin-outs because of the widespread benefits. 

It is commonly known that the majority of TTOs operate in the red. By weighting performance differently, offices are able to demonstrate their efficacy in more ways i.e. number of jobs created. Having a reputable report use this metric certainly confirms the importance of university activity – that universities are huge economic drivers. The more jobs created, more products available to benefit society, more innovation – all prove why funding (financially or otherwise) are imperative.

What do you think about this index system? Tell us in the comments below!



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