Commercialisation: There are no Rules!

The 2014 KCA Annual Conference, themed “Commercialisation: There are no Rules,” was held 18-19 September in Brisbane.

Day one kicked off with a lively, theatre style comical debate about the whole concept of institutional technology transfer and whether or not it actually works. It was an entertaining mudslinging affair, as both sides battled it out, arguing their points with passion to try win over the adjudicator audience. Valid arguments were presented on both sides, and while there was stronger support for the opposing team, the audience supported the notion that while in its current form the system is broken, the notion of technology transfer is still very important and a worthwhile endeavour.  You can read more about the debate on the gemaker blog.

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Day one continued on with updates from DECO on the defence trade control act, IP Analytics from IP Australia and some creative strategies around how to commercialise IP within the humanities and social sciences. Deakin talked us through how crowdfunding and using platforms such as Pozible do offer opportunities for society benefiting social projects, however these sites require strong commitment from the project team and the leveraging of the teams social and professional networks to really make the most of the opportunity and to gain the most out of the exercise. Creative commercialisation in education was also shown to offer benefits as presented by Griffith.

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The afternoon session saw the finalists of the inaugural KCA Research Commercialisation Awards join the stage to talk about some of the lessons learnt though their projects. Of course the most exciting part of day one was the awards dinner, tech transfers night of nights, where our winners of our three awards categories were announced in front of their peers and sector supporters. Just to recap in case you missed the hype (or the official press release), Best Commercial Deal went to Uniquest for their Janssen Dendright deal, Best Creative Engagement Strategy went to Griffith Enterprise for SEED, and the People’s Choice went to Swinburne for their 3D IMAX project. Congrats once again to all our winners, and a big thanks to all our award sponsors Wrays, gemaker, Crowe Horwath, Business Spectator and Joanne Jacobs.

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Day two launched with a cracker marketing session. How to use social media in the tech transfer office and other pearls of wisdom came down the line from guru Laura Schoppe calling in from North Carolina in the US. Changes in the social media scene in Australia were presented by prize donor Joanne Jacobs, while an inspiring tale of perseverance, creative financing and the power to influence via social media was shared with the group by Justine Flynn from the Thankyou Group.

Start-ups and student entrepreneurship featured in the mid-morning session. Andrew Stead shared NICTA’s model of the land of spin-ins, an IP strategy that sits somewhere between licensing and spin-outs. Uber passionate Petra Andren spoke on ATP Innovations student accelerator programs and the potential for universities to use them as a vehicle for commercialisation, and Colin Kinner rounded out the session with the importance of start-ups to the Australian economy and tips as to how tech transfer offices can turn themselves into start-up powerhouses.

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The humorous Michael Klug took on the graveyard shift and converted it into a show-stopping finale for attendees. We only gave him an hour, but he manages to impart substantive information in that short window, drawing on a good forty years of experience in the black art of negotiation.

All in all, a pretty good two days – hopefully you each have a few new “tools” to store away into your industry toolkit. Thanks for all of your feedback – it’s a really great starting point for next year’s program! Don’t forget to let me know if you’d like to join the 2015 organising committee!  The 2015 conference will be in Melbourne in mid-September.  Dates to be confirmed shortly.

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