Interesting Times for Technology Transfer Professionals – From new KCA chair, Erin Rayment

It’s exciting to be working in knowledge commercialisation and technology transfer right now and I am thrilled to have the opportunity, as the new Chair of KCA, to achieve greater positive impact in this rapidly evolving field. I welcome KCA’s new Board members: Quin Chang from RMIT, John Grace of UniSA Ventures, Amanda McAlpine from Meat and Livestock Australia, and Dr Simon Wilkins from the University of Melbourne, who bring diverse expertise and fresh ideas to invigorate our organisation. I look forward to working together.

With deep gratitude, I acknowledge the wonderful work of former Chair Alastair Hick, who has skilfully guided KCA for the past three years, following six years as Vice Chair. Alastair has applied great energy, passion and vision to enhance our organisation’s relevance and influence, and I feel fortunate to receive the reins from him. My thanks also go to Melissa Geue, our Executive Director for over five years to April 2018, for keeping the wheels rolling smoothly in all KCA operations.

‘May you live in interesting times’ is an apocryphal Chinese curse that springs to mind when I consider the rapid and profound changes we’re witnessing in government, industries and research organisations. The rate of change is accelerating, and it is the task of technology transfer professionals (TTPs) to help their organisations benefit from change, rather than suffer from it.

KCA supports TTPs with advocacy, training, resources, awards and events but above all, with a strong community of TTPs at all career stages – a kind of hive mind that members can access when they face challenges in their work. These challenges include: continuing to find efficiency gains; managing frequent organisational restructuring; and helping researchers adapt to a major cultural and political shift that prioritises industry engagement and real-world impact from their work. By sharing experiences and ideas, we rise together to meet these challenges.

I firmly believe that collaboration is key to coping with rapid change and deriving benefit from the opportunities that change presents. The KCA Annual Conference is an excellent opportunity for building relationships with other TTPs, as collaborators, advisors, and mentors. I encourage all members to attend the conference and our other networking events and engage with our community in sharing best practice to improve our work outcomes.

The announcement of the KCA Awards winners is a highlight of the Annual Conference, as the awards celebrate top-tier work in Australasian tech transfer. I heartily congratulate the University of Tasmania for winning both the KCA Research Commercialisation Award and the People’s Choice Award at this year’s conference, with their highly successful leveraging of IP from lobster research that will deliver the world’s first commercial-scale hatchery in Tasmania.

The awards are open to all KCA members and their project partners, working in all facets of research commercialisation, industry engagement and entrepreneurship. The judges look for projects that demonstrate originality and creative business insight, as well as those that deliver significant societal impact.

I hope that KCA members aim to meet these criteria in all their work and I intend to do all I can as KCA Chair to support them in this aim. I will also support KCA members who strive to work with government, engage with industry and connect our research organisations, to promote bipartisan, long-term planning and investment in science and technology education and career structures. This is how we will drive innovation to grow new, sustainable industries, improve our lives and protect our planet. What could be more interesting, or important, than that?

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