The AUTM 2015 Annual Meeting Wrap Up

In late February I (Maheshi Wadasinghe, IP & Commercial Analyst) had the opportunity to represent bluebox and join more than 1,900 technology transfer professionals from around the world at AUTM’s 2015 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA, USA. New Orleans welcomed myself and several other staff from QUT with its warm southern hospitality. It is such an interesting city with a rich mix of cultures and traditions. The AUTM meeting is intended to be a common networking location for academic research institutions, industry, investors and interested parties from around the globe. The meeting also provides professional development opportunities and to hear from national and international experts on trends in technology transfer. The opening reception on the first night was a great place to gain flavour of the meeting for a first timer like myself.

One of the highlights of this year’s meeting was the fireside chat with serial entrepreneur and developer of the “Lean LaunchPad”, Steve Blank. Steve stressed the importance of obtaining primary market research by going out there and talking to potential customers to validate the need for a product or process. A product which doesn’t address a market need is unlikely to reach commercial success. Researchers are not necessarily required to disclose their novel idea when approaching potential customers however, they are able to gauge the need for a process or a product by understanding customer pain points and asking a few simple questions!

I was also able to attend courses during the conference which helped me to better understand the key frameworks around the business side of licence agreements, valuating technologies and how Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) operate. I learnt about the complex nature of medical devices and the challenges industry and TTOs face during the effort to commercialise these products.  Another highlight of the conference to me was the negotiations course. There I got a glimpse of the art of negotiation and learnt practical tools and strategies essential for conducting successful negotiations. I now understand that effective communication and transparency is key between TTOs, academia and industry. It is vital to understand the needs of all parties involved when negotiating any agreement.  Throughout all these experiences at the conference, it was interesting to note that despite the differences in backgrounds of those who attended the conference, the common challenges faced by TTOs  and industry were shared by all.

The AUTM conference was truly a fantastic opportunity to expand your professional network , talk to really interesting people with interesting backgrounds and to understand international trends in technology transfer.

For more information, please contact Maheshi Wadasinghe on m.wadasinghe@qutbluebox.