Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) have a thorough understanding of the motives of both their external partners (industry, government, charities etc), and their in-house researchers. Many researchers though, remain reluctant to engage with TTOs to commercialise their technologies. To successfully communicate and engage with researchers, the reasons for this reluctance first need to be understood, before they can be overcome.
Barriers to commercialisation
One of the main barriers preventing researchers from commercialising their research is a lack of motivation to do so. A study analysing panel data on US universities, found that universities with higher inventor shares have higher licensing incomes. The effects of this incentive seemed to work both at the level of effort and the selection of researchers (K. Debackere, R. Veugelers, 2005). Another reason that researchers are reluctant to approach TTOs is the concern that commercialisation involves giving away academic ideas to industry, with the belief that industry’s main motive is to make money, which the inventors will never see. This stigma has slowly been changing over the last decade, with more research funding encouraging partnership with industry and with a focus on the translation of technology to the real world.
Many researchers do not fully understand the role of a TTO and are uncertain as to how the TTO can help them. Many are also unaware of the variety of options available to them, to commercialise their research outputs and may undervalue the commercial potential of their inventions, thinking that only novel blockbuster drugs can be of commercial interest. Other barriers include the perceived time needed to complete TTO technology declaration forms, and the feeling that the academics will lose control of their work, resulting in fewer collaboration opportunities. Overcoming these barriers is crucial in improving the TTO/ researcher relationship.
5 approaches to overcome these barriers
Here are 5 approaches you could use to improve your researcher engagement:
Be flexible to the different communication styles of your researchers
Different people respond to different types of communications. Varying your promotional activities can be useful in appealing to these different communication styles. Lectures, lunch ‘n’ learns, training sessions e.g. negotiation training, career fairs attendance, one-on-one meetings, word-of-mouth and marketing materials such as posters, leaflets etc. can all help create a sustained awareness building campaign.
Understand and accommodate the differing concerns of your researchers
Every researcher will have different concerns and challenges that have prevented them from working with you. Understanding and responding to these concerns, allows you to tailor your communications, to specifically persuade each of your academics to work with you. Some concerns could include; The length of time needed to complete your technology commercialisation forms or fear of losing collaboration opportunities. Case studies can help you show your academics the benefits of commercialising their technologies.
Discover the case studies of two researchers who benefited from commercialising their research reagents with us.
Help researchers understand the expertise and value that you bring
Help your researchers and academics understand why commercialisation is important, what makes a technology commercially valuable, who you are and why they should liaise with you. What benefits or incentives do your researchers receive from working with you? Promoting your services is crucial as many researchers do not know what support they can get or how they can get it.
Identify advocates within your institute and share success stories
Use existing relationships with Ximbassadors or other advocates within your researcher base to establish relationships with other faculty members at the institute. This is vital as those with a positive view of the TTO are more likely to not only bring you new research tools and technologies to commercialise, but are also likely to recommend you to other faculty members. A Ximbassador is a great resource to establish initial contact with these faculty members as they will already be part of the academic faculty.
Discover how our Ximbassador Programme can help you.
Constantly build your external network and engage external support
Having an external network of technology transfer offices can provide you with the opportunity to meet and share ideas of how to engage with your researchers as well as understanding best practice. Industry conferences or forums, such as the Reagent Forum we have run in the past, are great opportunities to increase this network. If you would be interested in attending one of our future forums or events, please register your interest by contacting us.
Learn more from the Ximbio Team
Alternatively, get in touch through your Portfolio manager or through our website to discover how we can help you convince your researchers to commercialise their reagents with you