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.
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.
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: email@example.com M: +61 414 780 077
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Celebrating Australian Innovators translation of Knowledge & Research into business
Australia punches above its weight in research with journal publications and patent applications. Translating that research success into commercial uptake by industry and creation of Australian jobs, is an intricate, challenging and resource intensive process.
The inaugural Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) Research Commercialisation Awards recognise research organisations success in creatively transferring their knowledge into the broader community and transferring their research into products or services with companies to grow new industries in Australia.
This year’s Awards include;
- Best Commercial deal for any form of commercialisation of knowledge which is innovative in its approach, provides value-add to the research institution and has significant long term social and economic impact.
- Best Creative Engagement Strategy to showcase some of the creative strategies research organisations are using to engage with industry partner/s to share and create new knowledge
Best Commercial Deal
Curtin University – Scanalyse sale
Curtin University sold its shares in award winning “Scanalyse” to international engineering company Outotec. Scanalyse laser scanning technology accurately models the interior of crushers and mills to monitor their condition, saving the mineral processing industry millions of dollars per annum. The business continues to employ 25 local staff in Western Australia.
Griffith Enterprise (Griffith University) – Silicon Carbide Coast
Griffith University is helping build a Silicon Carbide Coast through a suite of deals designed to commercialise its silicon carbide (SiC) on silicon (Si) platform technology. A multi-million contract with UK-based SPTS Technologies has facilitated mass-production of SiC wafers. A second million-dollar contract with Chinese microelectronics company SICC Materials, was then secured to build and commercialise devices utilising SiC. Partnering with equipment manufacturer and next-gen device manufacturer enables Griffith to maximise the new material’s commercialisation opportunities. Building on this foundation Griffith and partners aim to establish an R&D, prototyping and high tech manufacturing precinct in South East Queensland.
UniQuest – Janssen deal with dendright technology targeting rheumatoid arthritis
Researchers at the University of Queensland have designed a new drug, Curcusome-RA to treat rheumatoid arthritis before irreversible joint destruction takes place. UniQuest were successful in closing a funding deal with Pharmaceutical company Janssen to support Phase 1 clinical trials and ongoing R&D and have access rights to commercialise Curcusome-RA worldwide.
Best Creative Engagement Strategy
Griffith Enterprise (Griffith University) – SEED
SEED combines Griffith’s popular music, creative arts, film and marketing students to develop and promote an album each year. Students learn how to interact with online music providers and make valuable industry connections. Through major partners such as Queensland Performing Arts Centre, they perform a concert series The Seed Project, building a following and enhancing their, and in turn Griffith’s, reputations.
Swinburne University of Technology – A 3D IMAX Initiative – The ‘Giants Are Coming’ but they need to turn into the ‘Hidden Universe’.
Risk adverse university joins with creative film company to produce Australia’s first 3D IMAX film which has already been seen by more than 700,000 people in cinemas across the planet. Hidden Universe uses real images captured by the world’s most powerful telescopes to take audiences on a journey to the farthest reaches of our Universe and excite their interest and awareness of science and technology.
Adelaide Research & Innovation Pty Ltd – “One Health” Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance
Adelaide University have formed the most comprehensive data set and national network in collaboration with Zoetis(formerly Pfizer) and 22 govt, private and university veterinary diagnostic labs for Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in animals anywhere in the world. The collaborative program for the surveillance of AMR, known as “One Health” tackles bacterial infections that kill over 9000 people in Australia annually, more than breast cancer, prostate cancer and car accidents combined.
Curtin University – West Tech Fest/ OzAPPs
The West Tech Fest/OzAPP Awards provides a focal point to attract global entrepreneurs and investors to Perth at least once a year to enable local developers, researchers, budding entrepreneurs and others to engage, learn and be inspired. Raising $1 million in cash/in kind contributions towards prize money and running the event has led to the establishment of a numerous of start-up companies and laid a path to a more diverse economy in the region (OzAPP Awards partners with a range of co-working spaces, accelerators and other organisations accessing over 400+ start-ups and 25,000+ people with a passion for technology).
Wrays the major sponsor of the 2014 Awards, Wrays’ CEO Frank Hurley says, “Through our support, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of understanding often undervalued intellectual property to leverage new ideas, and subsequently nurture relationships with future entrepreneurs by enabling them to protect and also generate wealth from their innovations.”
The winners will be announced at the 2014 KCA Annual Conference Awards dinner on Thursday 18 September, in Brisbane.
Investing in the Future was the theme of the 2013 KCA Annual Conference, held 13-15 November at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Attendees were privy to insights from a diverse array of speakers, covering topics across the spectrum from market conditions to funding to the fundamentals of the way we do business.
The cocktail reception kicked off proceedings on the Wednesday evening, and this year featured a pitching session as part of the program. Following an excellent overview of funding trends in Australia from Jeremy Colless, eight representatives from across the country got up in front of the audience and eloquently pitched their ideas and technologies, showcasing just a handful of the amazing outcomes arising from some of our member organisations.
Thursday’s program jumped right into it, delving into the future market needs of the Australian economy and things we all need to think about as we move into a knowledge based economy. This included an overview of CSIRO’s response to emerging technology trends and global challenges, as well as a recent review from the UK as to the success of various interventions to Business-University Collaboration.
This was followed by an interesting discussion on changing trends in funding of technology development in Australia: highlighting outcomes and successes from Commercialisation Australia’s program, the challenges faced by traditional venture capital through to the emergence of accelerators and incubators, their relationship to corporate venture, and considering the extent to which we can successfully copy international initiatives in these areas. The need to think and act global right from day one was also a point that was made that has merit and would provide the innovation sector in Australia with the greatest opportunities.
Thursday afternoon we benefited from talks from some of our industry partners, who addressed both the opportunities and challenges they have faced in trying to collaborate with the university sector. Representatives from Bluescope, 3M and Thales all spoke to a long history of maximising the benefit from that interaction – good examples of champions within companies who believe there is benefit to be had in collaborating with Universities and publicly funded research organisations. They also spoke to the role that they can play in acting as “technology” brokers to wider opportunities within their organisations and clients, and the challenges of effectively communicating a compelling business case through a long chain of command in larger businesses, to show how specifically a particular project aligns with the organisation’s strategic and commercial objectives. Alignment of objectives is clearly a critical success factor in collaborative projects, and now we have some good tips as to how to do that better, and some great contacts in industry who are there to help the process.
Day one concluded with an overview of what’s happening across the landscape in other parts of the world, and it was interesting to learn that much of what we’re seeing here in Australia is happening across the Atlantic in the UK and parts of Europe. The shift away from a narrower focus on licensing and patenting and the move to collaborative partnerships and Easy Access, as well as the integration of the commercial office into to fabric of University departments are just some of the common trends. Similar trends can be seen in United States (US) and Canada. Like Australia and the UK, research dollars are declining and offices and there are pressures to do more and be more involved in facilitating collaborative relationships both nationally and internationally. The sharing of stories – the impact that research outcomes are having in the wider community – was another trend growing in the US, common to what we’re trying to do more of here in the Australian market.
Asia is a growing market for Australia, being so close both geographically and in terms of time. Accessing this market is not as complicated as one might think – it’s just a matter of knowing how. Strategic relationships, “piggy-backing,” and being willing to start small to get your foot in the door were just some of the ideas put forward to being successful at entering the Asian market. Understanding cultural differences and the importance of investing in developing relationships, as well as making full use of your international faculty members were other key take-home points.
Conference delegates were able to let down their hair after a hard day of intent learning, with a boat cruise and three course dinner around Sydney Harbour. The photo booth and karaoke proved popular forms of social networking!
Friday morning the conference focussed back in on our own people and gave ideas as to how we can better invest in ourselves and our offices to improve what we do. Social innovation and a shift towards focussing more resource to investigating the creative opportunities which lie within the social sciences faculties were mentioned many times throughout the morning. The importance of brand and culture to an organisation’s success was also highlighted. Values and vision were noted as core: “Visionary, successful companies are guided by core values which include a sense of purpose, beyond making money. Values do not drive the business – they drive the people within the business.” Staff were reminded that they are the most important brand advocates: making sure everyone conveys the same consistent message is key. Handled consistently, culture and brand can reinforce each other and build success.
Friday of the conference went out with a bang, with a highly energetic presentation about how to build trust with stakeholders in just one meeting. In this industry we often only have one chance to make a killer first impression and 9 times out of 10 we all blow this chance because we are too busy focussing on ourselves and not focussing on what is truly important – the needs of the other person we are trying to engage. In just one hour, we learnt some of the basics of how to shift our thinking away to help us refrain from some engaging in some of these detrimental behaviours, and began to understand the importance of being able to read others and adapt accordingly if we want them to begin to trust us.
Thank you to our sponsors once again for all your support – Wrays, Gemaker, Commercialisation Australia and Inteum – and to our members for your active participation during discussion time.