Sunday, September 05, 2010

Why Don't Tech Transfer Offices Know How to Market Their Innovations?

Why Don’t People Seem to Care About All the Cool Innovations That We Produce?

In the interaction between potential licensees and tech transfer offices (TTO's), there are critical missing pieces of an ever-expanding puzzle.  Creating, managing and displaying useful information about their intellectual property in such a way that it is understandable, easily found, accessible in many formats and most importantly, simple to license, seems to be a puzzle that TTO's are unable to solve.

Most tech transfer offices have web sites displaying technical jargon, acronyms, patent application data or the verbatim content from an IP disclosure that some researcher or patent attorney wrote, which they pass off to the public as marketing content for their technological innovations.  With very few exceptions it is clear that TTO's don't understand that by using language that nobody, not even other researchers, are using in web searches, that they don't have any idea who or how many people might be searching for the solution to a particular problem; Potential licensees can't find the ready-made answer, because of this faulty approach.

Instead, Universities have to hope that potential licensee’s will be able to follow a trail of breadcrumbs through academic databases, journal publications and patent searches, to ultimately find a some new innovative technology that could help make the world a better place to live.; or at least solve the problem that sent them searching in the first place 

I've spoken to dozens of Tech Transfer professionals and whenever I ask them what they do to market their institution's innovations, to all of the people that they don't already have contact information for, they always seem to fall back on the fallacy of “personal contacts” being the most important tool in business development.  Most don’t see the point or value of embracing the web, engaging new ideas, or learning new marketing skills.  They seem to believe that as long as they put something, anything, on a website, or IP aggregators, like iBridge, Folio Direct, Knowledge Express, Flintbox, etc, then people will automatically be able to find them.

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Darren Cox

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