Industry Insider Archives

Partnering Etiquette 101: Time is Precious. Make it Count.

August 14, 2019
AUTM Social Media Coordinator Carrie Hutchinson sat down for an interview with Sharon Semones who works for Eli Lilly’s Emerging Technology and External Innovation Academic Search and Evaluate team as a Strategic Advisor to partnering with academia and research institutes to foster novel business models, novel target strategic research collaborations and licensing opportunities. Sharon serves on AUTM’s Board of Directors and is also co-chair of BIO’s Technology Transfer Office Committee.
These are the opinions of the individual and not Lilly.
How can tech transfer offices best prepare for pitching to industry?
Be proactive and very specific. Before you reach out to pitch partnership with someone in industry, research the company’s website, validate mutual areas of interest, and handpick specific opportunities for discussion. For example, I work for a company that has been in diabetes for more than 100 years, so if you have a diabetes opportunity you should find out in advance what’s in my company’s pipeline and be prepared to showcase how your opportunity is different. If you need to know more than what’s on the company’s website, don’t use partnering meetings for that. Instead, use conference receptions and social events to reach out and meet people there and ask them about those kinds of things. Industry reps must show return on investment for partnering meetings and pure relationship building isn’t enough.

What should I lead with in a partnering meeting?
Tell me about the inventor that’s behind this innovation. Tell me about what their passion and expectations are and how current this research is. Also, what is your office’s strategy? Is this research a recent disclosure with known gaps you are able to share, or is it something that you have been marketing for a while? Industry sees a plethora of opportunities. Answering these questions will help me understand how to prioritize.

What are some best practices for using partnering systems?
Schedule early! I go to many partnering meetings and sometimes get hundreds of requests. I can’t do everything because my time is very limited. I prioritize based on who brings the best content. And if that content comes too late, my schedule may already be full. Typically, our schedules are full at least three weeks before a major partnering conference.

What do you want to see before a meeting?
Before I even get to the meeting, I want to see a non-confidential information package, information about the science, information about why this is better than anything else out there—basically, why I should care. And I should get this at least a week—preferably two—before the meeting so that I have time to review it and figure out what my next steps should be. Come prepared to the meeting so that when we sit down, we have a list of questions or actions ready. Your pre-reads should already have me sold on your asset.

How do we get the right people in the room?
Don’t market something that you don’t have the depth to understand. If you’re the only person coming to the meeting and you bring a list of different opportunities than the ones I’m interested in, cancel the meeting and instead connect me with the right person at your institution or have them follow up with me separately if they are attending. It demonstrates mutual respect for each other’s time.

What about confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements?
Make sure you let someone know when there needs to be a confidentiality agreement and why. Confidentiality agreements take legal resources. And my legal resources are prioritized based on deals that we’re currently trying to execute. If we can’t talk to you and have a scientific discussion until a CDA is executed and have no idea what information we would even get as a result, that opportunity will be de-prioritized.

What can I do that will make you want to meet with me again?
Be proud of who you are! Don’t try to be what you’re not. Don’t look for us to tell you what we want. What I’m interested in is learning what you’re best at and how we can work together to bring our best people together with your best people.

Bridging the Gap to Create Stronger Connections Between Industry and Academia

July 17, 2019
It’s (not just) Academic: AUTM’s Doors Are Open Wide to Industry

By Alisa Band and Aaron Adair

AUTM means business, and by developing new resources and working to grow industry membership within the Association, AUTM’s Industry Task Force, made up of industry tech scouts, is creating a more robust industry-academia marketplace within AUTM.

Our work is concentrated on two verticals: Providing insight and tools to academia-based members about how to best approach and work with industry to promote technologies, and supporting AUTM’s efforts to expand industry participation by increasing the variety of markets represented among Association members - from pharma and medical devices to agriculture and manufacturing. 

Our early efforts have focused on increasing awareness of AUTM’s “Industry-Academia Connect and Collaborate” sessions, an important networking program that provides a platform for industry to highlight specific technologies of interest via brief “pitches.” These efforts have paid dividends at AUTM’s Annual Meetings for nearly a decade. This year, more than 20 companies - Samsung Semiconductor, Stryker, Takeda, BSAF, and GlaxoSmithKline among them - made presentations. The hall was standing room only.

Recognizing that searching for partners and matching your technologies with industry’s needs is a multi-step process requiring a targeted approach and careful preparation, AUTM has produced a “Marketing to Industry Toolkit.” This resource offers suggestions -- to academia from industry – about how to familiarize yourself with companies and their submission processes, what to include in your pitch, how to make a good first impression, and tips for successful follow up. You’ll also find downloadable roadmaps for effective submissions to both pharma and non-pharma companies. 

Looking forward, the Task Force will work with AUTM on customizations to the AUTM Member Directory and to AUTM Connect. These improvements will better support the networking we’re all here to do. AUTM Connect, in particular, is a valuable online networking and partnering tool. It allows meeting attendees to create organizational and personal profiles, search for licensing and collaboration opportunities, and schedule one-on-one meetings with their counterparts during AUTM meetings. If you’re an industry scout and you’re not plugged in to AUTM’s Member Directory of dealmakers, you’re missing the boat.

AUTM recognizes there are many opportunities to bring more industries to the table. To help our organization diversify and grow, we want to hear from members of industry about the benefits of AUTM membership. If you’d like to contribute, email us

Everyday we’re working to increase industry participation in AUTM and facilitate the deal making we all need and want. After all, it’s (not just) academic. AUTM has a lot to offer both industry and academia. We’re on our way.

Alisa Band is the Chair of the AUTM Industry Task Force and Head of Tech Scouting, ICL Innovation
Aaron Adair is AUTM’s COO

June 19, 2019
Expanding Industry Outreach to Transform Ideas into Opportunities

By: Stephen J. Susalka, AUTM Chief Executive Officer

Technology transfer is evolving - and so is AUTM. We are committed to increasing industry participation in the Association by maximizing partnering opportunities with our vast network of members who manage licensing and sponsored research at universities, federal labs and research institutions. Those academic research networks are, to put it bluntly, a veritable “one-stop-shop” for business development managers and tech scouts. Together we can make great things happen – from the development of lifesaving medicines to smart technologies that connect us around the globe in ways that so far we’ve only experienced at the movies.

That’s one reason why AUTM is starting this - a regular column that focuses on the needs of our industry members and affiliates in the tech transfer and knowledge exchange environments. By working together and better bridging the gap between academia and industry, we all succeed.

AUTM’s push to attract industry into its ranks isn’t new. But it’s starting to bear fruit in a meaningful way, evidenced by our steadily expanding roster. Merck, Sanofi, Takeda, BASF, Dow Chemical, Elanco Animal Health, StemCell Technologies, Stryker, Samsung and many other companies today look to AUTM for access to early-stage technologies and principal investigators in their specialty areas – we would love for your company to join them too. 

I believe, as does AUTM’s Board of Directors, that accelerating AUTM’s lab-to-marketplace pipeline is absolutely essential. In fact, industry outreach has been given a prominent role in our strategic vision for AUTM with the development of a targeted outreach program — from agribusiness and manufacturing to medical imaging, automotive and cellular technologies. We want to supercharge deal making opportunities for everyone, from attendees at our Annual and Regional meetings to those who network through our online forums.

As Betsy Merrick of the Office of Technology Commercialization at The University of Texas at Austin put it, “Hands down, the AUTM Annual Meeting is one of the best ways for those in the tech transfer ecosystem to learn, meet with those who share the same challenges, and network in a forum conducive to deal-making.” 

Our colleague, Jeff Myers of Michigan State University, has a similar point of view. “At AUTM meetings, I've found the opportunities to connect with industry to be of great value. Networking events and the partnering system are excellent resources for successful industry-university engagements.”

Engaging industry also drives traffic to the AUTM Innovation Marketplace (AIM), which hosts more than 19,000 technologies available for licensing worldwide. Those are cutting edge opportunities available and deals waiting to happen.

By providing enhanced opportunities for collaboration and expanding AUTM’s innovation ecosystem to include a diverse collection of industries — from small manufacturing companies to large multinational corporations — our Members – both from academia and industry - are making the world a better place. Together.

If you would like to share your thoughts in this space -- as a guest columnist—about getting the relationship right, get in touch