What is Tech Transfer, Anyway?

It's About Transforming Ideas into Opportunities

Universities and research institutions are fertile ground for inventions that change the way we live. Google, vitamin D-fortified milk, life-saving vaccinations, cancer treatments — they are just a few of the thousands of inventions that each year make the world a better place. But having an idea — even a revolutionary one — isn’t enough. Universities and research institutions need help growing and advancing those discoveries to a final product or service — and that is where technology transfer fits in.

Technology transfer, and the professionals who work in the field, change the world one discovery at a time. They’re responsible for successful innovation management, corporate engagement, protecting and licensing inventions to companies, new venture creation and incubation, and economic development. Simply put, if an innovation or start-up has its roots in a non-profit entity — like a university, hospital or government lab — it's considered a tech transfer success.

Why Tech Transfer? It’s key to:
  • Prototyping and developing the next life-changing innovation
  • Identifying ways to disseminate non-patentable ideas, like apps and training
  • Developing academic-corporate alliances on ground-breaking research projects
  • Forming, incubating, and positioning for success the 1000+ start-up companies launched annually from academic research
  • Supporting regional economic growth and new job creation — up to $1.3 trillion in gross industrial output and 4.3 million jobs since 1996
  • Attracting and retaining talented faculty, staff and students.


AUTM plays a vital role in this process by highlighting the public value of government-sponsored academic research, supporting its members through career education, advocating for strong intellectual property rights, and expanding industry-academic engagement. The results of this work can be seen all around us, every day.

Discover the economic contribution of university/non-profit inventions in the United States. Download and share the AUTM-BIO report.

The AUTM Public Policy Advisory Committee works to give our members the tools they need to educate people about the academic technology transfer profession. We suggest you start here: Learn More About Technology Transfer: