The way in which Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) are measured and evaluated is inconsistent across institutions. However, the Milken Institute recently published its findings in index format, in a report titled The Best Universities for Technology Transfer. The index measures overall output holistically, rather than tabulating traditional metrics (like licensing income). Licensing income does not necessarily illustrate the true success of a TTO.
Milken looks at the following criteria:
This index takes into account average dollars per number of researchers, which helps level the playing field by stating output by unit (defined as a single PI) and showcases smaller productive research institutions. This evaluation approach 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. 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, such as the number of jobs created. Having a reputable report use metrics like these confirms the importance of university activity – that universities are huge economic drivers.
What do you think about this index system? Tell us in the comments below!