AUTM Summit Explores Opportunities for Caribbean Tech Transfer
In the Caribbean, with miles of ocean separating island nations and devastating storms wreaking havoc all too often, innovation is a survival skill. At the Caribbean IP Summit last month in Puerto Rico, AUTM Board Members and Caribbean stakeholders explored the importance of technology transfer in this region and how AUTM resources can help inform and encourage commercialization efforts.
“I saw both courage and trepidation from those who wanted advice on how to get a technology transfer or knowledge transfer function established in their institution or region. This alone to me is more than enough reason to hold this summit on a regular basis,” said AUTM Board Member Tari Suprapto, Director of Search & Evaluation (Western USA and Canada) for Novo Nordisk.
The 2023 AUTM Caribbean Intellectual Property Summit took place June 23 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was hosted by the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust (PRSRT). Individuals from several other Puerto Rican institutions attended, including Industry University Research Center, Inc (INDUNIV), Universidad de Puerto Rico, Ponce Health Sciences University and San Juan Bautista School of Medicine. Two Jamaican institutions, Northern Caribbean University and University of the West Indies, were also represented.
The Summit agenda included an overview of AUTM benefits; a roundtable discussion about tech transfer basics, with Board Members providing examples from their own institutions; a forum for Caribbean participants to ask questions about issues and opportunities; and small group discussions to promote authentic exchanges of information.
“The aspect of the Summit that I found most valuable was the open sharing of best practices and tips by the AUTM Board,” said Carlos Báez, Senior Technology Manager for PRSRT. “Their combined experience provided invaluable insights and knowledge, enabling everyone to gain practical guidance that can be implemented in our own work.”
Similarly, Board Members deepened their understanding of Caribbean tech transfer culture.
“The candid and frank interactions that happened between all participants at the Summit was something I found to be valuable,” said Board Member Joy Goswami, Senior Director of Corporate Engagements at Johns Hopkins University. “These interactions gave me a clearer understanding of the tech transfer landscape in the region.”
Despite challenges, Caribbean innovation is thriving in many areas, and examples shared by Summit participants impressed the Board.
“The people I met were very proud and eager to share that they had extensive and impressive manufacturing capabilities and capacities in Puerto Rico for the biopharma industry, including the skilled workforce,” Suprapto said. “I hope more people learn about this, as manufacturing is a rate-limiting step in getting unique and potentially powerful therapies into animal studies, clinical trials and eventually into the marketplace.”
Attendees appreciated the opportunity to learn from each other as well as from the AUTM Board.
"The most valuable aspect of the Summit was the small group discussion of which I was a part. During that discussion, we looked at different models of a technology transfer office for a small island developing country with a handful of universities and research institutions—essentially, the type of country found in the Caribbean,” said Loreen Walker, an intellectual property attorney with the University of the West Indies. “We paid close attention to the Puerto Rican model of a regional technology transfer office. I will certainly be investigating this more closely as a model for Jamaica."
View photos from the Summit