Every technology transfer office (TTO), no matter its size, is trying to get technologies out to the market whether by licensing the technology, collaborating via research projects, or spinning out a startup or other new commercial entity. Small offices face an additional challenge of commercializing technologies with very few human resources.
First, what is considered a small technology transfer office? For the sake of simplicity, small tech transfer offices can be defined as offices with less than three full-time employees in licensing roles and less than five full-time employees including support staff.1
Historically, the size of the university or research institute and their research funding determined the size of the TTO in a proportional manner. However, this is not always the case. There can be the same number of invention disclosures as a larger office, and the office has to support the organization with the resources they have.
These small TTOs, sometimes called micro-TTOs, must serve their faculty with the same services as a larger office but with fewer human resources.2 This situation can often slow or stall new initiatives from taking shape or even coming to fruition.
How can an office evolve without losing sight of their goals and keeping up with the day-to-day responsibilities of serving the faculty and staff? In a small office with less resources, this question can be even more daunting. We dive deeper into this challenge in our webinar, Evolving a Small Tech Transfer Office: Growing Up Without Selling Out. Guest speaker Mr. Paul Debbie from the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research discusess his experiences and best practices leading a small tech transfer office. His experiences and insights are applicable to all sizes of offices, not just those with 1 or 2 full-time employees, to help us develop and grow our own tech transfer offices.
1. R. Raser and P. Heller, Administration of Large and Small Technology Transfer Offices, https://www.autm.net/AUTMMain/media/ThirdEditionPDFs/V2/TTP_V2_P1_C7_ex.pdf?ext=.pdf
2. T. Withnell, Staying Afloat - How Micro-TTOs Can Best Use Their Resources, https://blog.astp-proton.eu/most-recent/staying-afloat-how-micro-ttos-can-best-use-their-resources