Top tips for Technology Transfer Office websites
For many academics, their institution’s website is the main point of call at the start and throughout the technology commercialisation process. Ensuring that all the key information is easily accessible and clearly presented is essential in helping drive academic engagement.
To the outside eye, technology commercialisation can appear to be a convoluted process, so, it is important to present all necessary information, in an efficient and effective way. We’ve used our own expertise and consulted with successful TTOs to come up with a few key points to follow next time you refresh your offices’ web pages or website.
1. Ensure the basic information about your Technology Transfer Team and/or office can be found easily on your institute’s website. It is often not obvious where the commercialisation team or office sits within an institute’s structure, making it difficult to find the office on the website too. It is also important to clearly highlight which parts of the website are catered for academics and which are for industry.
a. Additionally, if your office sits external to the institute, or if you work as part of a consortium, provide brief information about your relationship with the institute(s) and how you work to their benefit. There are huge benefits from collective and focused expertise, but where IP is involved, working with too many external partners can be seen as a hindrance, so a brief explanation of how your office collaborates with the institute can help clear up concerns. Similarly, consortiums can be excellent, especially for smaller institutions, for knowledge and resource sharing, and although the structure and purpose may be obvious to those who work within them, it is helpful to outline this from the start to avoid confusion down the line.
Mount Sinai Innovation Partners has a clear website where their mission and relationship to the Mount Sinai Health System are clearly outlined, alongside basic information about all team members and partners. WatCo, the commercialisation office at Waterloo University, give a summary of what working with them entails, all the way from disclosing a technology to the first 12 months of an established partnership.
You could go one step further and outline any external resources and subscriptions that you may use within the commercialisation process. For example, LMU Munich have produced an example one-page overview for academics outlining what IN-PART is and how to submit a technology summary to be posted on the platform.
2. Include introductory information about the technology commercialisation process. For those who are new to Technology Transfer as a process, they may not know they have an appropriate technology until they are aware of the basics (i.e. what type of intellectual property is commercializable). We recommend putting the basics and more specific summary of the process you follow directly on your webpage with links to external resources. You could also create a downloadable flyer or infographic which outlines some of the finer details related to your institution. If you do have booklets or leaflets for your office available, we also recommend making them downloadable so they can be accessed and read offline. We appreciate that this can involve some extra work, but it is worth the initial time investment of producing quality information that can be used consistently by your office and researchers.
The Office of Technology Commercialization at the University of Texas Austin has a great page where the commercialisation process is clearly broken down into easily digestible sections. The Australian National University provides a comprehensive tool book with some helpful infographics.
3. Provide some basic information about Patent Law, the differing types of Intellectual Property and how your institution handles them. We all know that patent law and IP are complex topics, so providing academics with the basics ensures that you are able to have the right conversations at the right point in the commercialisation process. Different institutions handle intellectual property in different ways, so for academics who have engaged with commercialisation teams at other institutions, having this conversation at the start of the process can help ensure everyone is confident moving through the process.
This can be done in multiple ways. University of California, Santa Barbara have produced a simple but informative written summary, while The University of Durham gives an overview in this video.
4. Last, but most definitely not least, is organising the paperwork; making sure all forms that you require to be completed at various stages of the process are available and easily accessible.
It is inevitable that there are various hoops to be jumped through, but there are a few simple things that you can do to try and help this process happen as smoothly as possible. Firstly, make sure all the forms that an academic may need can be found in one clearly marked page on your website. Ensure all forms are labeled and titled correctly and have a brief explanation of why and when they are required. We also advise having completed examples of each form with commentary on exceptional circumstances if possible, for example, outline which fields are mandatory, and what the author should do if there is certain information they don’t have yet.
If possible, make forms downloadable in more than one format (i.e. as a Word document and PDF), include instructions as to how to convert the files if you require the form to be submitted in a particular format (i.e via pdf rather than a word document) and be sure to include clear instructions about how and where to submit the completed forms (i.e via an online file drop or include a submissions email address).
Written by Leah Nolan. Edited by Frances Wilkinson. Formatted by Ella Cliff.
Copyrights reserved unless otherwise agreed – IN-PART Publishing Ltd., 2022: ‘Top tips for Technology Transfer Office websites’
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