Technology Transfer Offices International Conference

By: Arun Pradhan, Senior VP

I was recently invited to participate on a panel at the Technology Transfer International Conference in Ankara, Turkey. The conference was co financed by the European Union and the Republic of Turkey to celebrate establishing four new technoparks and associated technology transfer office. The technoparks play an important role in the innovation ecosytem, providing technology transfer services, as well as training, consultancy and support of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the objective of increasing socio-economic development and competitiveness in the region.

The conference kicked off with talks from the Minister of Science, Industry & Technology and the Charge d’Affairs of the delegation to Turkey. Both of whom, talked about the importance of increased research funding, technology transfer, transitioning to a knowledge based economy and most importantly the impact associated with technology transfer. In later talks, as we hear from the various technoparks, it was clear that technology transfer means more than licensing. For the innovation ecosystem in Turkey, it encompasses new jobs, social welfare and increases competitive advantage.

The panel that I was on, discussed the efforts outside of Turkey and lessons learned. Specifically, using examples from Finland, Poland and Turkey the speakers discussed the elements that led to the successes in their respective ecosystems. My topic was a little more general in that I discussed what in my opinion are six significant developments and/or issues in the field of technology transfer, i.e. measuring impact versus revenue or numbers (patent applications, patents, agreements etc.); the rise of technology portals; express/easy licensing; proof of concept funds; university seed venture funds; and, translational research centers.

Overall, it was a great meeting and a great location in Ankara.

AUTM Asia 2015 – Malaysia Time

By: Thom Abbott, Asia Business Development

Now in its fifth year, AUTM Asia has become a regular must-do event for Technology-Transfer professionals in the region and beyond.  This year’s meeting held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, in the shadow of the famous Petronas Towers, helped prove why. The venue and organisation were great, and many congratulations and thanks go to those involved with organizing the event.

There were a definite majority of Malaysians attending the event; this in fact worked to Foresight’s advantage as although not the largest country, meeting with each of the major research universities in the country in one trip can be quite a challenge. As such a lot of Foresight’s time at the event was spent in one-on-one meetings with some of the local TTOs and government officials, getting a better idea of the landscape and how Foresight may be of help.

With each meeting it became clear that many of the TTOs felt they had spent the last 2-3 years being bombarded with offers of training and consulting, and there had already been a lot of investment in this area. What is needed now is support in sorting large portfolios with sometimes 1000+ technologies, as well as the practical side of helping to make deals and negotiate international licenses and agreements. Great news for Foresight! With our technology assessment expertise and multidiscplinary team, we are perfectly placed to help filter out the strong technologies on offer. Similarly our ever-growing international presence and deal making experience should place us in a great position to support these activities, whilst also recognising the different local issues that exist when commercialising technology. I am hopeful this meeting will help to act as a catalyst over the coming months and years, so we may build even stronger relationships with the Malaysian organisations we met.

Another exciting piece of the event, was news of the efforts to formalise the Tech Transfer community in Malaysia with the recent formation of the Innovation and Technology Managers Association Malaysia (ITMA). Currently with only a Facebook page up, the first meeting is planned for late May, it is hoped it will prove a useful forum for discussing best practice, sharing resources and finding information on support provided by companies such as Foresight.

There was a great range of speakers and subjects, from large and small organisations worldwide. Being an Arts graduate myself, one discussion I found of particular interest was given by the current President of the International Association of Universities, (IAU)Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli Abd Razak, on what he termed ‘Social Innovation.’ Not focusing on social media or linking groups internationally, but instead notions of Transdisciplinary Innovation and Consilience. In other words, taking aspects not only from all of the sciences, but also the arts to create better frameworks, relations and idea sources for creating truly innovative technologies that solve real problems. It was interesting to compare these thoughts with Foresight’s own way of thinking in terms of looking at a whole supply chain system and looking at all possible applications when assessing businesses and technologies.

Overall a great experience for Foresight and a chance to build on relations in yet another country in the region.

AUTM 2015 Annual Meeting

By: Norton Kaplan, COO

As an AUTM Sponsor and exhibitor I had the opportunity to participate in the annual 2015 conference. The first formal event that I participated in was the Fireside Chat Featuring Steve Blank, developer of the “Lean LaunchPad.” What a great start as Steve began by again validating the Foresight Technology Niche Analysis® methodology by stressing the often overlooked but extremely important need to engage with end-users early in the commercialization process. As the TNA® methodology stresses, early communications with end-users provides the opportunity to develop and validate a hypothesis concerning the technology being developed. Steve stressed that it is important to listen to the end-user community, especially if they are not convinced the subject technology truly addresses the needs of that community of users. They will guide the developer in defining the truly unfulfilled needs and the actual problems that need to be solved. Often the traditional tech transfer process seems to push technologies on potentially unwilling users – with less than desirable results. Steve and the TNA® methodology instructs the developer(s) or their representatives to reach out to end-users to reverse that process and create an environment of technology pull by targeting the needs of the community, even if these needs do not initially seem to be the biggest segment of a market. Along the way, co-developers, potential partners, and objective critics are identified – paving the way for a more positive outcome.

Foresight at AUTM 2015

VP Marketing, Kristin Rencher, MBA, RTTP will again be teaching AUTM Marketing Course™. This year’s course takes place Sunday February 22. The AUTM Marketing™ course is designed for early-career technology transfer professionals (1-3 years of experience). Participants are trained in basic and advanced strategies for effect marketing and sales of academic technologies, as well as effective internal marketing strategies in order to maximize invention disclosure rates and enhance office reputation and efficacy.

Kristin will also be leading the new AUTM Marketing Special Interest Group (SIG) on Wednesday afternoon, February 25th. The Marketing SIG is open to anyone engaged in the practice of marketing technologies and technology transfer offices. It is a venue for sharing marketing ideas and innovations – both success stories and failures – and is intended to help advance the art of technology transfer marketing.

Also attending AUTM 2015 are Arundeep Pradhan, Senior VP of Foresight and former AUTM President; Norton Kaplan, COO; and Alyssa Nacewicz, Director of Sales. Come by our booth to say hello to the team or receive a demo of our limited time offer market research solution, T2+2®Lite.

Meeting the needs of small TTOs

On October 13-14 Foresight Science and Technology attended “Best Practices in Small TTO” meeting organized by AUTM in Denver, CO. More than 30 attendees representing US and foreign research universities discussed various challenges faced by small TTOs. The meeting was structured as the series of active discussions covering various topics of TTO operation. This interactive “round table” format allowed all participants to share their thoughts and ideas and ask important questions.

It is clear that research universities should be actively involved in technology transfer but how should this work be structured and optimized in the time of decreasing research funding and budget cuts? What is the best way to measure the success and where can they find additional resources to facilitate the technology transfer process? These questions are difficult to answer even for larger TTOs with significant financial resources and manpower. For small offices, which are often run by a single manager working as the “Jack-of-All-Trades”, addressing todays challenges in efficient way is particularly important.

Over two days participants discussed the topics covering the establishment of resource-saving office management strategies, personnel hiring, taking advantage of the opportunities provided by local entrepreneurial systems, and new approaches for identification and commercialization of non-patent university IP assets (such as copyright and trademarks).

From this event we gained a great deal of insight on our potential clients as Foresight has particular interest in working with small university technology commercialization programs where we can leverage our expertise and professional experience. Attending the Best Practices in Small TTO meeting was highly valuable as it allowed us to better understand the needs of small TTOs and develop new offerings which will satisfy the critical needs of this very important group of our clients.

Foresight Science & Technology, Inc and Apio Partners, LLC Join Forces

BOSTON–October 7, 2014–Foresight Science & Technology, Inc. (Foresight) ( and Apio Partners (Apio) today announce their combination under the Foresight company name, effective August 1, 2014. Foresight is a 35-year-old technology transfer firm and one of the largest global players in market research and technology commercialization services, with offices in the U.S., Europe, South America, and Asia. Portland-based Apio Partners, founded by Arundeep S. Pradhan, MS, and Kristin Rencher, MBA, RTTP, is a technology transfer management and consulting firm specializing in intellectual property management, licensing, and marketing of early stage technologies and companies. Both Mr. Pradhan and Ms. Rencher will assume senior management positions at Foresight. Merging the strengths of both firms, Foresight is expanding its domestic and international capabilities to continue to deliver best in class technology transfer commercialization services.

Phyl Speser, JD, PhD, RTTP, founder and CEO of Foresight, noted, “As Foresight expands, we have entered a merger and acquisition phase. We are especially pleased to initiate this phase of corporate growth by having Apio’s seasoned senior managers join Foresight’s leadership as we exploit new opportunities in the academic and government technology transfer market, both in the U.S. and abroad.” Speser is the author of the seminal book The Art and Science of Technology Transfer and an internationally known expert in the field.

“By teaming with FST, a global leader in technology commercialization, we are able to bring even more sophisticated tools, services and expertise to further the commercialization of research-based innovations” said Pradhan, former president of the Association of University Technology Managers and Associate Vice President for Technology Transfer and Business Development at Oregon Health & Science University. Pradhan will serve as Senior Vice President of the newly combined companies.

The combination will allow continued international and domestic growth for a company that has been a long-standing player in development of global intellectual property- based innovation ecosystems. Existing product lines will be enhanced, and additional product lines such as technology marketing, licensing, startup development will be added. With this expansion, Foresight becomes an even more comprehensive technology commercialization enterprise. Plans are in place for the 2015 debut of enhanced products, such as T2+2™ version 3.0, the development of a mobile technology commercialization app, and the creation of two new business units.

Return to Taipei

By: Thom Abbott, Business Development-Asia.

This year’s AUTM Asia in Taipei was a chance for me to brush the dust off my mandarin skills and visit a country which holds very fond memories for me, having spent a year as a student at National Sun-Yat Sen University in the South of the country.

Guidebooks describe Taiwan as the oft-forgotten hidden gem of Asia. This could also be said of the major international companies and technological successes that have come out of the country. People could be forgiven for not realizing the likes of Acer, Asus, Giant, HTC and Foxconn all come from Taiwan. Giant, the bicycle manufacturer, aside the vast majority of Taiwan’s success stories all come from the telecommunications, electronics, precision engineering, and integrated circuits fields. It is these companies and fields which continue to drive industry and innovation in Taiwan today.

In our rapid tour of the Hshinchu Science Park just south of Taipei, the breakdown of the current companies gave a strong indication of this. Over 90% of the income in the park was coming from various optoelectronics and integrated circuits companies. Despite the concentration in the electronics industry, there is a desire to expand into other fields. At the forefront of this is the expansion are bio-medical companies, part of a plan since the late 90’s. Although it is a fast growing filed in the country, it only accounts for less than 1% of the total income in Taiwanese Science Parks.

Set up in the 1980s the Hsinchu Science Park was the first development of its kind in Taiwan and now makes up part of a network of developments predominantly along the more developed West coast of the island. These are all connected by the country’s High Speed Rail network allowing for easy transport between the different sites and major cities of Taipei, Hsinchu, Taizhong, Tainan and Gaoxiong. Unfortunately we were very much given the ‘package tour’ of the facilities at the science park but still got a relatively good feel of their capabilities and the desire to grow.

In the same region as the Hshinchu Science Park are other important research facilities. As part of the tour we were given a quick introduction to ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute) and some of their more quirky inventions such as an umbrella with a water filtration system built into the shaft, so you can keep dry and quench your thirst!

The other driver for the development of the science park in Hsinchu are the two research focused universities National Chiao Tung and National Tsing Hua. Before the AUTM meeting we had an opportunity to sit down with the Director of the newly renamed ‘Center of Industry Accelerator and Patent Strategy’ at National Chiao Tung University. The name change perhaps reflecting a shift seen elsewhere to go away from the traditional Technology Transfer Office, to more accelerator and business development roles, and trying to focus on industry collaboration and generating more spin outs. As well as a lot of telecommunications and electronics research going on here, the office is also the centre of their startup scene.

The AUTM Asia event itself was very well run by Paul Liu and his team, and it was great to meet some of the other young people interested in the field going through his programme at National Chengchi University in Technology and Innovation Management.