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Editor-in-Chief,   Anatole Krattiger

Editorial Board

Concept Foundation


Fiocruz, Brazil

bioDevelopments-   Institute

Establishing and Operating Technology Transfer Offices
Topic Guide for Technology Transfer Managers

Why This Topic Is Important

Setting up and running a technology transfer office is a complex undertaking that draws on a diverse set of technical, managerial, and business skills, that are all not commonly found within research institutions. The attendant organizational and cultural changes require clear leadership and a commitment of resources from senior administrators and policymakers. This section discusses both overarching issues of managing technology transfer and many of the specific functions involved, including staffing, training, and data and file management. Perspectives are provided on setting up technology transfer offices in numerous different countries, including the U.S., Europe, and many emerging economies.

Key Implications and Best Practices: Section 6

Given that IP management is heavily context specific, these Key Implications and Best Practices are intended as starting points to be adapted to specific needs and circumstances.

  • You have a duty to ensure that senior management understands that a successful technology transfer office (TTO) requires visible and sustained support, financial and otherwise. Work with senior management on the definition of clear mandates that will help you choose among competing priorities and the ever-present trade-offs between business and academic values.
  • Above all, ensure that senior management knows that it requires TTO officers who are able and willing to take risk and senior management to support you.
  • Efficient and effective TTOs must have an articulated TTO mission, transparent TTO policies and procedures, entrepreneurial staffing and an entrepreneurial environment, customer-friendly relations between TTO staff and internal and external constituents, a highly supportive administration, strong TTO links to potential industry partners, and TTO access to risk, or venture, capital.
  • One of the most important factors for a successful TTO is the institution’s entrepreneurial culture. This is determined most often by the attitude and degree of support from senior management.
  • A TTO must emphasize the importance of confidentiality in all its operations.
  • Any TTO needs to have, from the outset, a systematic way of managing agreements and many other forms of data as the amount of data will increase significantly and year by year. The sooner a functional contract-management system is implemented, the easier it will be to keep track of contracts and make the most of them, both for the organization and for its collaborators.
  • The Whitehead Institute’s proprietary agreement management system (called WIIPS™) may constitute a viable software option for emerging and established TTOs. WIIPScan be downloaded for free from the online version of the Handbook.
  • The importance of continued hands-on training programs of TTO staff cannot be overstated.
  • Similarly, the importance of building networks in the technology transfer and licensing community is critical. By working through networks, practitioners exchange ideas and experiences, forming best practices that become performance standards for both individuals and their institutions.
  • When recruiting personnel to staff your office, consider key qualifications. The importance of having the best professionals working for you cannot be overstated. Staffing can have a significant impact on the success of your office.
  • Any TTO will have a wide range of legal matters to be addressed, and procedures for working with external patent counsel and general counsel should be well established. Make sure you are in, and stay in, the driver’s seat.

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