AUTM Updates

Using Licensing Survey Data to Tell Your TTO's Story 

John Miner
Chair, AUTM Metrics and Surveys Portfolio

I did it my way. Frank Sinatra’s words are what I hear in my head when I am creating custom reports from AUTM’s database of Licensing Survey findings. Every tech transfer office has its own unique story, and the great thing about the Licensing Survey data is that it can help you find different ways to tell that story, depending on who’s listening.

With more than 30 years of continuous data meticulously collected by AUTM, we have at our fingertips one of the most powerful data sets available to our profession: the Statistics Access for Tech Transfer (STATT) database. But many folks come to me with questions about what to do with this data. How can it help me or my office? Which metrics are most important? How can I use the data to identify trends?

I’ll share some examples of how I use the STATT data at my institution, the University of Central Florida. But remember, my way doesn’t have to be your way.

Coming from a small institution that has grown into a medium institution and is on its way to becoming a very large institution, my office has relied on the AUTM license data to help justify our very existence at times. We have used it to benchmark our performance against the rest of our state, our peers and our aspirational peers. We use it to track expenses and reimbursements, deal flow and technology pipelines.  We use it to identify offices that excel in certain areas, then we reach out and learn from their experience to improve our own processes.

The stories we can tell using this data go beyond counting licenses or startups or dollars of revenue received. We can identify trends like the recent moves toward copyright licenses and non-exclusivity.  We can track our workloads by juxtaposing productivity metrics with staffing metrics (news flash: we need more staff everywhere). You may find a key to unlocking new revenue streams at your institution or new strategies for pushing your commercialization efforts further than ever before.

Looking for ways to tell your unique story will help you remember that it is not a competition. Every office has areas where they excel relative to their peers, so when using Licensing Survey data, it’s critical to compare apples to apples. Trust me, I know from personal experience how demoralizing it can be when your administration asks, “Where is our Gatorade?” Your office may not be bringing in a billion-dollar deal, but you can use STATT data to turn the spotlight on your own successes. 

Similarly, every office—yes, even the giants—can use this data to improve. Maybe you start reaching out to colleges and departments that are not in your typical STEM field. Perhaps you reach out to a peer in another state and share best practices. Maybe you use the data to make the case for more resources from your administration.

At the end of the day, you have a tool with which to punctuate your office’s story with meaningful data. And you get to do it your way.