|The annual AUTM (Association of University Technology Managers) conference has wrapped up for another year following 4 days of intensive seminars, workshops and networking events. Sunny San Antonio provided a welcome break from the Brisbane’s inclement weather of late February as well as being friendly and hassle free host city with no shortage of vibrant cafes, restaurants and bars along its famous river walk (see picture on right).The conference provided an excellent opportunity to network with our peers, predominantly US based, in the technology transfer profession and to hear about both successful and unsuccessful models that have been employed outside of Australia. Kate and I met a vast range of tech transfer industry professionals from Managing Directors of offices that had 50+ employees down to newly formed tech transfer offices with only a handful of employees. Despite the great differences in organisational structure, the many challenges in transferring innovation from academia to industry were consistent to nearly all.
Beyond the general models of technology transfer, there were quite a number of focused interactive sessions encouraging attendees to share their successes and failures on topical issues such as; developing mobile device applications, plant biotech and physical sciences. There was a general tendency for tech transfer offices in the US to seek patent protection and spin-out companies at a much earlier stage than that typically seen at Australian tech transfer offices. This could be in part attributed to generous patenting budget allocations, a greater appetite for risk within many US universities and also greater access to sources of early stage seed and venture capital. Never-the-less with the U.S. economy beginning to show signs of recovery there was an air of optimism that the market’s appetite for taking on risk in early stage new technologies may again be on the up following a slow couple of years.
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Anthony Musumeci – Commercial Manger