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proactive TTO look for necessary complementary IP in its own portfolio among the myriad academic silos maintained by hyper-specialised researchers?

• Poorer visibility: customers Te most difficult challenge of all is finding the profit-maximising customer for the technology that does surface. Tere are no universally agreed valuation methodologies, few exact ‘comparables’ at such an early stage, and little idea of what exactly a potential buyer wants to buy, and how much that buyer may be prepared to pay.

Let’s now look at this as a horizontally organised industry. Te greatest challenge—figuring out how to be a ‘for profit’ business among academics— becomes the greatest advantage because a pure return on investment-driven metric is not required. Instead, TTOs can demonstrate all of the other traditional success metrics, including revenue generation, by sharing resources with their competitors and customers as is done everywhere else.

In a horizontal model, resources are shared on an ad hoc basis among an entire network of people in a common operational context, on a shared but secure platform. Better information is available to more people, and at a faster pace. Transaction values are improved as customer needs are better understood. Commercial evaluation is speeded by access to a range of ‘on-stream’ experts, and collaborative research contracts can be concluded more rapidly among pools of researchers.

So much for the fantasy. How about the reality? Te remarkable fact is that all of the tools currently used in the industry to create this horizontal model have been in use for a number of years. For-profit businesses know that information movement, transparency, and expertise-sharing are the sine qua non of increased productivity and increased profit. Can these techniques be applied in the tech transfer world as well?

With the coming of age of cloud computing, a number of companies have created ‘virtual’ marketplaces. Supply chain managers have adopted these techniques to link raw materials to finished goods to retailers. Google and Amazon have clouds for information storage and sharing. Tis level of pure information- sharing is well advanced. Sharing data in this way, however, doesn’t add the truly critical resource—human decision-making—to the process. What the tech transfer world needs is ‘Collaboration 2.0’: the virtual business created in a market space by all participants. For tech transfer, what might this world look like?

• TTOs will operate as standalone businesses for their university shareholders, much as they do today. Accordingly, participants in the horizontal

Tey will:

• Allow each participant to order information in a meaningful way;

• Exchange information with different people applying different levels of security/confidentiality simultaneously;

• Create ad hoc, ‘deal-specific’ groupings, assembled (and disassembled) in minutes; and

• Allow stakeholders direct access to data they require without distracting the business.

Using this Collaboration 2.0 paradigm, all of the key TTO metrics can be harmonised with shareholder (university) drivers.

• Knowledge transfer is maximised, whether for reputation, revenue, or the ‘greater good’.


• More packages of IP are assessed faster, more accurately, and more consistently, for protection or publication.

• Collaborating market participants—whether inside or outside the particular TTO—add their value without significant time cost.

• TTO activities are transparent to their shareholders, reducing paperwork and demonstrating value.

• No IT involvement is required, no new hardware or soſtware is purchased, and every member of the university knowledge transfer community is connected with one click.

‘virtual’ organisation must remain able to run their own businesses in their own way.

• In a dense mix of peers, productivity gains will be easy to spot and crucial to maintain. Legacy data management platforms, specifically designed for technology transfer, are not the same as business management soſtware. In today’s world, data are entered once, are instantly available to any team member, and can be manipulated by anyone without needing an IT or finance expert’s assistance. If the TTO is not operating in this manner, it is missing the single largest tool in delivering its key performance indicators while gaining net resources (people time) for further success.

• Intelligent collaboration platforms deliver more than just a huge pile of unmanageable data.

26 World Intellectual Property Review January/February 2012

Using a horizontal market and Collaboration 2.0 paradigm, TTOs can shiſt from overworked and underappreciated academics to self-directed, successful participants in the burgeoning marketplace of knowledge transfer. Te Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) Global Technology Platform is a step in the right direction. More broadly, inexpensive soſtware meeting these challenges is now available. Just look out, not up— your peers are there waiting for you. n

Daniel Nadis is the chief executive officer and founder of Occams Resources. He can be contacted at:

Daniel Nadis is the founder of Occams Resources, a ‘Collaboration 2.0’ soſtware company providing practical solutions to the academic research enterprise. Since 2001, he has been operating businesses that deconstruct unproductive workflows in and between large organisations and rebuild them as secure shared work environments.

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