Board Perspectives — August 9, 2023

Strengthening Tech Transfer Through Strategic Organizational Partnerships

Tatiana Litvin-Vechnyak, PhD
AUTM Board Member
Vice President, Technology Commercialization
Georgetown University

Collaborations between AUTM and like-minded organizations are invaluable for the tech transfer profession, and the recent Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) showcased how these partnerships foster knowledge exchange, facilitate best practices and accelerate innovation.
AUTM has long been at the forefront of promoting and advancing technology and knowledge transfer at the intersection of academic and industry innovation.  Recognizing the importance of collaboration in achieving its mission, AUTM has forged strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations such as the NAI, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC), Inventing America and the Licensing Executive Society (LES), among many others.
AUTM's collaboration with the NAI signifies a mutual commitment to supporting, recognizing and celebrating academic invention and cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit at academic institutions. The NAI is focused primarily on the beginning of the innovation timeline, providing resources and support for inventors and their academic communities through local chapters where researchers can come together in small groups to share their experiences and mentor emerging innovators. AUTM, in turn, supports the tech transfer professionals who guide those inventions through the commercialization process and celebrates their impact through the Better World Project and other channels.

The NAI Annual Meeting includes a gala and an induction ceremony for its newly selected NAI Fellows, an honor bestowed on a select number of highly successful inventors. I recently attended the 2023 NAI annual meeting in Washington, DC, and it was amazing to see the pride and joy of inventors, their families and colleagues as they were inducted. They deserve the recognition and the honor for the incredibly hard work that innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship really require.
The NAI Annual Meeting also brings together university leaders, presidents of key university organizations such as the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU) as well as inventors and tech transfer professionals to discuss the importance and impact of innovation that results from academic research. Many AUTM members, including Board Chair Almesha Campbell, as well as AUTM CEO Steve Susalka, served on several panels that were incredibly well received.
The NAI event provides an important forum for attendees representing different segments of the academic innovation ecosystem to get to know one another, share knowledge and experiences and discuss challenges faced by academic inventors. One such challenge discussed at the 2023 meeting involves tenure and promotion in academia. Innovation, patenting and research translation is hard and time consuming but can have tremendous impact on the lives of our communities—yet many universities still do not recognize and reward such activities on par with academic publications and grants.
By working together, AUTM and NAI have amplified their separate efforts to recognize and celebrate academic inventors and encourage a culture of innovation within the academic community. Joint initiatives, such as conferences, workshops and awards, have not only brought together inventors and technology transfer professionals but have also showcased success stories, inspiring others to pursue their innovative ideas and inventions. AUTM’s partnership with NAI, as with other like-minded organizations, has helped fill the gaps between academia, government and industry, nurturing a collaborative environment that benefits technology transfer and society as a whole.