A couple of weeks ago Knowledge Commercialisation Australia (KCA) and KiwiNet partnered to bring the KCA Fundamentals of Technology Transfer Course to New Zealand.
The course kicked off with Alistair Hick, Director of Commercialisation at Monash University, and Nigel Slaughter (top right), GM Commercial at WaikatoLink, hitting home some of the fundamental truths of working at a technology transfer office.
- “Failure becomes the norm” – the road to commercial success is not plain sailing and it’s inevitable that we’ll encounter many barriers along the way. We need to learn to recognise barriers and signs of failure as early as possible.
- “An idea is only worth what the market is willing to pay for it”
- “Where does your value stop?” – understanding the importance of partnering to get a technology into the hands of a partner that has the scale and channels to get it to market.
- Drivers for commercialisation across parties are seldom aligned – what the company wants is often very different to what the researcher wants, so it’s important for the TTO to understand the drivers of each party to ensure successful outcomes.
Duncan Ledwith (bottom right), Director of The OpShop, continued with a session on marketing technologies, which was centred on knowing the pain point your solution is targeting.
- “Is your solution a pain killer or a pain vitamin?” – make sure your time is spent on pain killers because no-one takes their vitamins!
Lack of a clear understanding of pain points is one of the primary reasons for failure. Within big corporates, up to 65% of new product ideas fail – this costs the US alone about $250 billion each year. In the start-up environment, the failure rate is as high as 90%.
The messages of the day were reinforced by Anthony White of Orica Chemicals, who provided useful insights into how TTOs can more effectively engage with industry. A key takeaway was that your chances of engagement with a company can be improved if you find your way in via the finance department – if the CFO buys into your value proposition, you’re more likely to get in front of the commercial decision makers.
The next session bought a refreshing talk on IP by Earl Gray, Partner at Simpson Grierson. Rather than discussing the value of IP protection, Earl emphasised that having IP rights doesn’t necessarily spell success. The value is in knowing your market and how you can use your IP rights to your advantage.
The course as a whole provided many insights from experienced professionals. With research commercialisation being a relatively small industry in NZ, it was also great to get the chance to interact with our Australian counterparts.