Featured Innovations: Conveying the What, Who, How, and Why – Part 1

Discoveries are made every day; some discoveries have vast implications, while others might only impact a small group. Some innovations emerge through a serendipitous accident, and others are the product of a lifetime of work. There is incredible variability in how discoveries are made, and that variability should be represented in the narrative of the scientific innovation.

The role of technology transfer is to help researchers  move their discoveries and inventions to the marketplace. What we call a “featured innovation” is an opportunity to explain a new technology in an accessible and engaging way. The audience is broad, from the general public to potential investors, lawyers, inventors, academics, and OTT professionals. These pieces should answer four main questions–What? Who? How? Why should I care?–while simultaneously including the inventor’s journey.

When writing a featured innovation piece, the first step is to do some preliminary background research on the new technology. This research will allow one to craft specific interview questions for the inventor and gain a greater understanding of the new technology and its purpose.

Next, it is usually most productive to interview the innovation’s case manager. Case managers oversee the process of moving the innovation out of the University to a commercial partner. They can often provide a simplified explanation of the new technology and its potential future. Additionally, they usually have recommendations of questions that a writer should ask the inventor.

The interview with the innovation’s inventor is the opportunity to ask more personal and unique questions about the research process. The development journey is always unique; some inventors conduct basic research in a lab, while others spend the majority of their time working with individuals in disciplines ranging from public health to mathematics.

After completing the interviews, one can begin to craft the article and provide a clear explanation of what the technology is. It is imperative to use appropriate and accurate terminology that is also accessible to individuals who may not be experts in a given field. This segment of the post also provides the writer an opportunity to narrate the inventor’s individual discovery and development process. It is important to make it clear why the innovation matters at both the individual and societal level. These details are crucial to convey potential value for investors and stakeholders alike.

The best featured innovations weave together the answers to these questions to create a captivating story that is informative, intriguing, and convincing of the importance of the innovation.

Check out our featured innovations on our website here.

– Hannah Heitz & Aspen Ono