The Clockwork of Tech Transfer Projects

In this article by John L. Jenkins, the participants in a successful academia/government/commercialization technology transfer project are compared to clock components.

"The key to the development of a successful technology licensing team is to develop an understanding of, and empathy for, the priorities of other players in the relationship. Look at the players in the relationship as though they were components in a clock. A clock’s gears, by design, move and operate independently from one another. This very precise interrelationship is integral to the clock functioning properly."

Jenkins identifies the players and their priorities as follows:

A. The Academic Team

From the Professor(s) perspective:

Funding for graduate students
Research for dissertations/theses
Case studies for presentations/conference papers
Acquisition of new/upgraded equipment
Areas of interest to the school’s administration
Technology that builds on/complements prior research
Potential for collaboration with other institutions

From the Student/Researcher perspective:

Research for dissertation and/or thesis
Tuition and/or stipend support
Enough excitement to keep them from studying!
Fulfillment of multi-class requirements
Something to brag about to friends/family
Something meaningful to put on a resume

B. The Private Sector/Commercial Team

From Management’s Perspective:

Potential for profitable new product(s)
Potential for cost reducing process improvement
Risk profile justifiable to a board of directors
Commercialization cycle to satisfy investors
Potential for visibility (read: promotion/raise)

From Engineering/Development’s Perspective:

Something "cutting-edge" to work on
An intellectual challenge
Potential for long-term involvement
Lead to a potential raise
Something meaningful to put on a resume

From Marketing/Sales’ Perspective:

Something that will knock the customer’s socks off
Potential for performance/bonus achievements
Synergy with existing products/services
Something meaningful to put on a resume

C. The Government Team

From the Government Researcher’s Perspective:

Something meaningful to work on
A connection to real-world application
A profile that’s significant
Potential for long-term involvement
Something meaningful to put on a resume

From the Government Funding Group’s Perspective:

Fit with the organization’s charter/mission
Potential for job creation/retention
Favorable political value
Acceptable risk profile