BioBusiness - When Science Has a Potential Payoff
Interview with The Scientist and Dr. Louis M. Scarmoutzos
The Scientist: Technology Transfer Offices - Commercialization of Life Sciences Discoveries?
First of all, I would like to comment on your questions from the perspective of someone in industry, particularly from a small business perspective. Notwithstanding the differences between industry and academia (culturally and otherwise), there are also different perspectives from someone in a small company compared to someone from a large company.
The Scientist: What characteristics do you believe make a good tech transfer office?
Having the right mix of talent, prompt turnaround times, and reasonable valuation expectations (regarding intellectual property) are what I believe characterize a good technology transfer office (TTO). By having the right mix of talent, I mean not only legal professionals but also talented professionals with a good background in business and in technology.
The Scientist: If you were to grade technology transfer offices at US universities and biomedical research facilities, overall, what grade would you give them? Why? What about tech transfer offices internationally?
Generally, I would give them about an average grade, at best - primarily due to the reasons given above from your previous question. University policies such as publication requirements and faculty cooperation as well as university culture can also be frustrating. Some university TTOs prefer not to work with small companies.
The Scientist: What pressures/challenges are these offices facing these days? Is it pretty much business as usual or are tech transfer offices building their capabilities? How so?
Technology transfer offices and their function are growing and becoming more widespread, largely due to a combination of a two factors: the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 and decreased industrial R&D activity over the past decade or so. As a result of the Bayh-Dole Act, universities see technology transfer not only as beneficial for society as a whole but also economically beneficial to them as well. With the decreased R&D conducted in industry, more and more businesses are looking to university sponsored research as a source for new products and new technologies.
The Scientist: Are there any ways in which tech transfer offices could improve? What are their failings?
Exercising restraint and providing a more balanced perspective on what to patent (license) and what to make available to the general public.
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Dr. Louis M. Scarmoutzos, or "Dr. Lou" as his colleagues and friends fondly call him, is a Managing Partner and Founder of MVS Solutions Incorporated- a corporate and technology development company and consulting firm that provides scientific, technical and business assistance to business, government, and nonprofits in the biotech, chemistry, life sciences, medical device, healthcare and related industries. Dr. Lou can be reached at email@example.com or at (617) 283-2182.
The Scientist is a news journal providing coverage of the latest developments in life sciences research, technology and business. Additional information concerning The Scientist can be found on the Internet at www.the-scientist.com
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