Unique Rather than Common Elements Characterize Tech Transfer Deals

As already suggested, our present focus is not the process per se but rather its components. The reason is fundamental yet perhaps too little appreciated: Although each tech transfer commercialization certainly reflects and results from an identifiable process, it is decidedly not manageable as such. That is, the word process suggests that one can delineate a set of steps, criteria, measures, inputs, outputs, and so on and then hand them, as if a recipe, to someone of reasonable skill to manage for a variety of situations and technologies.

That would be true if the commonalities existing among the various successes dominated the story. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, the unique differences in the constituents must be dealt with. Each deal must be handled with its own particular emphasis on the blend of ingredients, from human factors to royalty rates.

Indeed the misconception of emphasizing tech transfer as a process has seriously undercut the potential success of many tech transfer efforts; unfortunately, emphasizing commonalities of process from deal to deal diverts attention from the unique, vital, and critical deal-dependent differences of the components. These include faculty personalities, the nature of the technology, the time and capital required to advance from laboratory discovery to proof of concept, the nature of the market, and other factors.

Ultimately determinative of success are the motivations and relationships of those involved. We thus look at the researchers, their relationships with their institutions and administrators, and the types of arrangements they have with commercial entities. Subsequent sections treat those components and their special elements that affect the success of transferring an invention and technology.



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