The Alphabet Soup of Professional Organizations and Conferences

October 29, 2019

There are a lot of organizations out there that help build and strengthen relationships between universities and corporations, bridging the gap between theory and application. These relationships are critical for both parties. For corporate innovation teams, establishing academic partnerships is a promising investment in the future of its R&D efforts and long-term viability as an organization. For university tech transfer offices, developing relationships with large corporations can lead to better financial support and even profits from technologies.

Although their underlying focus may vary from highly specific to broad topics or industries, professional associations or organizations provide value to their members in a multitude of ways - and many of them host events or conferences to bring academia and industry face-to-face.

With the new year almost here and many of us evaluating our event attendance and budget for 2020, we thought it would be interesting to have a look at some of the many professional organizations that are out there to support tech transfer, intellectual property management, and innovation around the world.

Here we compile a thorough list of professional organizations (and their many acronyms!) and how they may be useful to you.

  • ASTPAssociation of European Science and Technology Transfer Professionals – ASTP is the professional association for technology and knowledge transfer in Europe. They provide training, professional development, and promotion of technology transfer across academia and industry. ASTP joined forces with Proton Europe in 2013 so it will sometimes be referred to as ASTP-Proton. Their conference is held in the spring, usually in May.

  • AUTMAssociation of University Technology Managers – Their annual meeting is usually held in the second half of the first quarter of every year – in late February or early March. AUTM holds four regional meetings in three regions of the United States (eastern, central, and western) and Canada as well as a number of training events throughout the year.

  • BIOBiotechnology Innovation Organization – BIO is the world’s largest trade association with corporations, academic institutions, biotechnology centers, and other organizations from more than 30 nations. Their annual meeting, the BIO International Convention, is the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, with over 18,000 attendees and over 46,000 partnering meetings. The number of partnering meetings even set a Guinness World Record for “Largest Business Partnering Event.”

  • FLCFederal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer – This U.S.-based nationwide network of federal laboratories provides a forum to develop strategies and opportunities to help transfer laboratory mission technologies into commercial products for the global marketplace. FLC gets together for their annual meeting every spring.

  • IRIInnovation Research Interchange – Formerly the Industrial Research Institute, IRI is an international organization that focuses on R&D and innovation and their directors. The organization has almost 200 members in for-profit corporations and federally-funded laboratories. In addition to their annual event in May, the organization has a number of smaller conferences throughout the year with topics of interest for their membership including digital transformation, innovation leadership, and networking.

  • KCAKnowledge Commercialisation Australasia – As the name suggests, KCA is the organization for technology transfer for Australasian research organizations. They provide professional development, networking, and advocacy in industry engagement, commercialization and entrepreneurship for research organization. KCA’s annual event occurs every September.

  • LESLicensing Executives Society – LES is a leading organization for intellectual property, licensing, and business development professionals. The organization has been around for 50 years and focuses on promoting intellectual property commerce in a variety of ways including many courses, chapter meetings, and their annual meeting in October.

  • UIDPUniversity-Industry (U-I) Demonstration Partnership – As their tagline indicates, the UIDP is about strengthening partnerships between academia and corporations. UIDP represents a wider audience than only tech transfer and IP-related matters. This organization spans across all members who are impacted by any partnership or relationship between universities and industry, including tech transfer, corporate relations, industry engagement, sponsored and joint research, and more. UIDP has a multitude of events throughout the year including courses, forums, and conferences.

  • UIINUniversity Industry Innovation Network – UIIN is an international organization with a membership that is focused in Europe and Australia. They’re focused on driving innovation and entrepreneurship through university-industry interactions. In addition to their annual event every spring, the University-Industry Interaction Conference, the organization also organizes events, workshops, and forums on specific topics around the globe throughout the year.

  • UNITTUniversity Network for Innovation and Technology Transfer – UNITT is the organization for tech transfer and IP management in Japan. They support universities, research institutes, joint research organizations, and entrepreneurs with their efforts toward industry-university collaborations. The annual meeting for UNITT generally occurs in September.

This list is not exhaustive, but these organizations should be recognized for their extensive work in connecting academia and industry. Developing these partnerships is a foundational piece of open innovation. Collaboration between the two worlds means that a wider breadth of knowledge can be tapped into and leads to more robust results - like better technologies or expedited product development.

As the team at Wellspring gears up for the 2020 conference and trade show circuit, we want to hear about the groups you belong to and the organizations that go above and beyond to facilitate these relationships. Which of these conferences do you go to every year? Are there events that we missed? Let us know in the comments below, and see you next year on the road.

Image by blickpixel from Pixabay



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