Finding technologies that are born and developed at US universities is often a challenge. Sometimes entrepreneurs and investment groups seek out technologies from universities to commercialize. Their first avenue of locating these technologies might be searching through university websites. Most universities have some mention of available technologies. One problem with this direction is that the list may be incomplete or unimpressive.
Why would this be? While speaking with Gerard Eldering, President of InnovateTech Ventures and former technology transfer director, he concluded the following:
- The Technology Transfer Office has not filed patents on the technology yet – The process of preparing a filing a patent application in a TTO can take many months. They may be willing to discuss a technology with you under an NDA, but won’t publish the technology until the patent application is filed.
- They have not prepared good marketing material on the technology yet – This was the case with all of the technologies I recently looked at. It takes a considerable amount of effort to put together a good marketing package and iterate with the inventor. Many TTOs are understaffed and can get behind on these tasks.
- They don’t want everyone to know about their best technologies – Yes, you heard me right, they might be holding back. But if they post a high potential technology on their website or a national database, they are going to get calls from all manner of prospective licensees including many unqualified. Furthermore they may have some specific licensing targets they want to approach before putting it out to the broader market.
Therefore, entrepreneurs and investors need to keep this in mind when looking for university technologies. Don’t expect to find the best technologies posted in public view. Finding these technologies means going beyond a web search at the TTO website. It may require contacting and establishing a relationship with the TTO. Another avenue is working with a venture creation firm that already has the relationship established.