World-first career framework for Technology Transfer Professionals published

Strategic thinking, business and commercial acumen plus the ability to communicate and influence are some of the identified skills required by Technology Transfer Professionals (TTPs) to effectively take research to market says the World’s first TTP Capability Framework published today.

Entitled Knowledge Transfer in Australia: Is there a route to professionalism?  the new Framework is the result of intensive research where 103 TTPs, 31 stakeholders and 64 Australasian organisations were interviewed and surveyed.

To date TTPs have lacked clear and identifiable career paths.  While commercialising publicly funded research is relatively new, the drive from external stakeholders such as Government and business to “do better” has escalated the need to better define the practice, and outline what is required to effectively put research to use in both an ethical and competent manner.

Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) therefore commissioned the development of a world-first career Capability Framework that defines the skills, knowledge, behaviours and values required by a team taking research to market, and outline career paths for those working in the role at different levels.

The KCA framework describes up to 200 desired capabilities for TTPs, divided into seven clusters and sixteen sub-clusters, and classified by development stages: early-career, mid-career and senior level.

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Study participants perceived the skills of Australasian TTPs to be strong in the area of intellectual property advice and knowledge transfer, plus the qualifications and experience of those in the industry is well respected. The skills requiring the most development are in the areas of business acumen, communications and influence, legal compliance and advice, marketing and relationships, social media, and strategy and results.

KCA Chair and Director of Monash Innovation at Monash University, Dr Alastair Hick said with increased demand and interest in improving the transfer of research to market, the KCA Framework comes at the right time. It will fit well with the range of initiatives in the National Science and Innovation Agenda as we move to ensure Australian research has the best chance to have impact for the Australian economy and society more broadly.

“To date there has been a lot of discussion about Australia’s record of translating research success into commercial uptake and jobs creation, with much of it focussing on the researcher. However, technology transfer professionals play a vital role in commercialising research out of research organisations so ensuring they have the right skills and development are crucial to this commercial success. The framework is helping us to benchmark our performance and skills and see where KCA can provide additional training opportunities for our members” said Dr Alastair Hick, KCA Chair and Director of Monash Innovation, at Monash University.

In March 2015, the Professional Standards Council awarded a $98,000 grant to KCA to develop the framework for the professional competency standards of the technology transfer sector.

“No one else in the world has achieved anything like the KCA framework, which focuses on the skills technology transfer professionals need, rather than just job titles or roles. Our international counterparts have said they are keen to receive the framework as they will find it valuable for their professional development pathways,” said Dr Hick.

‘The Capability Framework we have developed provides benchmarks for technology transfer professionals (TTPs), against which the performance of individuals and teams can be measured.

“A digest of the Framework will be provided to KCA Members as a toolkit to improve recruitment practices, select targeted professional development, communicate their capabilities to stakeholders, and enable informed self-assessment and career planning.

“Researchers and industry stakeholders can also use the Framework to improve their understanding of the role of TTPs, thereby promoting more transparent, accountable and productive partnerships,” said Dr Hick.

Recommendations for KCA and similar organisations include the development of a Code of Ethics for the TTP sector; focused education programs to address the identified skills gaps; secondment and mentoring programs involving Technology Transfer Offices and industry stakeholders and a formal processes for stakeholder feedback on the performance of TTPs.

“We are delighted to see this report, as it tackles the issue of advancing knowledge exchange and commercialisation by providing insights to build Australian industry,” said Dr Deen Sanders, Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Standards Council.

“It also shows that this sector is taking a serious and strategic approach to raising standards and becoming a profession.”

KCA is having discussions with the Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals (ATTP), the global alliance of professional technology transfer associations, to see how it might be applied internationally in order to recognise excellence.

The project team comprised of technology commercialisation consultancy gemaker (associate members of KCA), Dr Hick and KCA Executive Officer, Melissa Geue with gemaker Co-founder Athena Prib leading the team.

About Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA)

KCA is the peak body leading best practice in industry engagement, commercialisation and entrepreneurship for research organisations. We achieve this through expert delivery of stakeholder connections, professional development and advocacy.

About gemaker

gemaker works with Australia’s smartest people connecting them to expertise, customers and funders as needed across the full innovation process of taking new ideas to market. A team of technical and commercial specialists commercialising new technologies, products and services for research organisations, SMEs and start-ups in the advanced manufacturing, education, environmental, ICT, medical, mining, new materials and nuclear sectors. gemaker is an associate member of KCA.

About Professional Standards Councils (PSCs)

PSCs work to improve professional standards and protect consumers of professional services across Australia. Professional Standards Councils are independent statutory bodies established in each state and territory. They have specific responsibilities under professional standards legislation for assessing and approving applications for, and supervising the application of, Professional Standards Schemes. PSCs and their agents work together in a partnership approach to regulation that both enhances Australia’s consumer protection regime and promotes the vital role professions play in our economy.

Media Contact: Sharon Kelly (gemaker), E: sharon@gemaker.com.au M: +61 414 780 077

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