AUTM Offers Equality Diversity and Inclusion Training for Those New to the Technology Transfer Profession
Anji Miller, MSc PhD CLP RTTP
AUTM Board Member
The ability to understand, respect and interact with varying sectors of society is more crucial than ever within a Technology Transfer (TT) context. TT professionals sit between multiple parties on the innovation journey, requiring a diverse mix of skills and the ability to understand an array of products, services, technologies, and commercial landscapes. Innovation landscapes also differ on local, regional, national, and even international levels. Adding the ability to effectively communicate with a wide range of stakeholders is an essential skill for any TT professional.
Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) plays a key role in innovation and implementation and should occur at many levels. The first level of action begins within the TT office and is built upon the adoption of active EDI policies addressing hiring, training, and continuous professional development.
Secondly, educational establishments usually have EDI policy in place, but value and impact originate from its implementation. There is a documented lack of diversity among researchers, especially in engineering and in senior positions. Many considerations can begin within the TT office to positively influence the whole institution—from ensuring datasets are sufficiently diverse to encouraging innovators to form collaborative, diverse teams to reduce the chances of research blind spots and self-biases. The consequences of not taking these measures have been well documented (1-5). In addition, commercialization strategies should be inclusive, ensuring the technology is affordable and accessible and to all.
The LifeArc AUTM and Susan Riley Keyes Memorial (SRK) fellowships are training programs designed to ensure new TT professionals are trained to exercise best practice. EDI is a key element of the program alongside foundational TT subjects. As with previous years, the LifeArc AUTM and SRK fellows come from a range of diverse backgrounds, from countries all over the world, with the 2021/2022 cohort also featuring two firsts: first Welsh and first Estonian fellows joining the program this year.
Based on the unique training approach, unrivalled success, and effectiveness in creating a sense of belonging, these programs are considered the gold standard in the field of TT for training new professionals. This is reflected in the data, the LifeArc AUTM Fellowship, which has been operating for seven years, has trained 40 fellows to date. Of these 85% were female, 27.5% from underrepresented groups, with 93% of fellows securing a role in TT before the end of the fellowship. (6) Similarly, of the 16 SRK fellows trained to date, 63% were female and 68% were from underrepresented communities.
Speaking on their experience, the fellows responded as follows:
“We started our respective LA and SRK fellowships knowing the prestige surrounding the programs and the incredible opportunity we were offered during our year-long experience, kickstarting our journey into the TT world. Our high expectations were confirmed and exceeded. Alongside the formal training given both online and in-person in the AUTM courses, we were offered a mentoring scheme and invaluable networking opportunities. The highlight of the fellowship is our participation to the AUTM annual conference, 4 days packed with networking, inspiring plenary speakers, and round table discussions, meeting interesting people from all over the world and delving deeper into the technical detail of the technology lifecycle, plus have a lot of fun.
One of the advantages we did not expect was to be immediately and actively welcomed into the vibrant, diverse, friendly, and open community which is the AUTM network. We learned that University TT has a leading role to play in advancing EDI policies with many strategies. The discussion around EDI policy seemed solution-oriented with a strong focus on its implementation and the central role that the TT office has in the process. Lastly, our experience as LA and SRK Fellows has demonstrated the importance of national and international associations like AUTM, ASTP and PraxisAuril in training new technology transfer professionals to ensure that EDI is a key component of TT best practice”.
The LifeArc AUTM and Susan Riley Keyes Technology Transfer Fellowships are training programs designed to help individuals scientifically trained and/or in the laboratory transition to become technology transfer professionals. Details of the LifeArc AUTM fellowship program can be found here. [ https://www.lifearc.org/careers/fellowships/autm-fellowships-2/ ] and Susan Riley Keyes Memorial Fellowship here [https://autmfoundation.com/susan-riley-keyes-application/ ]
- (Kendall, Dana (January 31, 2020). "Now Streaming: 'Coded Bias' Exposes Tech Made without Women and BIPOC in Mind". www.sundance.org. Retrieved 2020-12-05; Trenholm, Richard (31 March 2021). "Eye-opening documentary Coded Bias, streaming on Netflix April 5, faces racist technology". CNET. Retrieved 5 April 2021)
- (https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/16/when-bias-in-product-design-means-life-or-death/; https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/when-bias-hurts-the-mother-of-invention-gender-gap-affects-health-innovations-targeted-at-women/articleshow/83632849.cms?from=mdr;
- Sjoding MW, Dickson RP, Iwashyna TJ, et al. Racial Bias in Pulse Oximetry Measurement. The New England journal of medicine 2020;383(25):2477-78. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc2029240 [published Online First: 2020/12/17];
- Philip KEJ, Bennett B, Fuller S, et al. Working accuracy of pulse oximetry in COVID-19 patients stepping down from intensive care: a clinical evaluation. BMJ open respiratory research 2020 doi: doi:10.1136/bmjresp-2020-000778;
- https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/ebiom/PIIS2352-3964(21)00151-1.pdf .