Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Promise of the Future for Tech Transfer

How to Get There

It is possible to leverage the power of the Web to bring potential licensees, folks that you don’t have contact info for, to the universe of amazing technologies that often lie dormant waiting for someone to discover them.  By using ubiquitous web tools, and following proven content-optimization methods, industry can find out about licensable technologies and, in many cases, actually license it, with no human intervention, no phone calls, no negotiation and no paperwork.

Whatever applications and tools the TTO chooses, though, should really be a secondary consideration.  The application itself is simply a means to an end.  In my mind, which application one uses is only as important as a tech transfer office's ability to change the way they market their technologies.  It is so important for people to understand that they should not be using jargon, technical descriptions and the indecipherable gobbledygook that professors and researcher write. (mostly, it seems, to impress other professors and researchers)  one can find reams of quantitative data that PROVES that people simply do not use the web to search for solutions to problems the way most of us in the tech transfer world seem to think they do. 
If folks aren't beating down your door to find out more about all of the cool, ground- breaking inventions and discoveries that you have to offer, you no longer have to ask yourself why; It is because you are writing for the wrong audience.  I have had this argument a hundred times with folks in our own office and all I can say is that the results speak much louder than anything I can say or do to convince them.  

I can give you a hundred examples of how easy it is to get people to actually notice your licensable technologies, but most often, it doesn't matter, because folks don't want to do the work it would take to fix their content.  They just want to post whatever they have in KSS, InfoEd or Inteum, directly to the web, with no regard for whether or not anyone in the world will ever be able to find it, use it or understand it, if they do.  We in the Tech Transfer world seem to think that the simple act of getting a technology description online means that anyone searching for a solution to a problem, one that has anything at all to do with the general nature of one of our inventions, will easily be able to find it.

The fact is, there are tens-of-thousands of technologies being listed on IP aggregator sites, but the real people out there searching for them can't find them because we do such a horrible job of writing technology descriptions, optimizing our content and setting ourselves up for success.  We don't understand the tools that we are using or how search engines work.  Optimizing content can help us do our jobs by bringing unsolicited leads to our doorstep.

Tech Transfer Offices need to completely scrap the way they think about how they describe their technologies.  We need to begin to learn how to use the tools that we already have available to us.  And, finally, we need stop trying to turn technology management systems, like KSS, Inteum and InfoED, that are in no way meant (or equipped) to help one market the technologies whose descriptions are housed there, let alone do so online.  We need to start thinking more clearly about our the behavior of our audience.

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Darren Cox

Darren Cox
Founder and Chief Evangelist - CaSTT - Commerce and Search for Technology Transfer