A Technology Transfer Colleague Visits from Tunisia

Like most Technology Transfer professionals in Tunisia, I am eager to learn more about the profession and network with colleagues. I was fortunate to participate in the Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Through this program I was sponsored to spend one week visiting the Emory University Office of Technology Transfer (OTT). It was an invaluable experience for me, I’ve learned so much and now have many new colleagues in my network.

I would like to share some of my thoughts and experiences from my visit. One of my key takeaways is that for teams to be truly successful they need to be able to identify their challenges, opportunities, programs, and processes as well as have an understanding of their fellow team members.

My second key takeaway was to learn about and see a successful intern program. The licensing team spends their valuable time teaching and mentoring PhD and postdoc students in the field of technology transfer. The program is very interactive for all involved. I was able to participate and share some of my real “case studies” and receive thoughts and suggestions from everyone. My challenge will be to see how I can incorporate some of these concepts into my small office of three, which currently has less interaction, and not let the workload distract this objective.

My second challenge is to find a way to be connected to my professional colleagues outside of Tunisia, perhaps through networks such as AUTM or ASTP-Proton. I clearly see the value of continuing my professional development and the benefits of certifications such as Registered Technology Transfer Professional (RTTP), and I will need to consider for myself.

With a large office like Emory OTT there is specialization and division of responsibilities. This provided me an opportunity to spend time with each group and get a more in-depth look at each. There are many really interesting concepts or functions within each group, I’m not sure I could pick my favorite. For example, Kevin, from the start-up services group, brought me to several of project meetings and I heard about about the various funding opportunities available to start-ups. Quentin, the marketing manager, explained to me in detail the process of creating non-confidential technology briefs, their TechFeed system, and targeted technology marketing.

I was fortunate enough to meet individually with each member of the licensing team. In particular, each of them discussed various components of the Commercialization Evaluation Reports (CER) for technology disclosures. The reports include items such as a technology summary, unmet needs, intellectual property review, and market potential. To round out this topic I was able to attend their weekly meeting where the CER reports are presented, discussed, and strategies are decided.

A unique concept for me is industry contracting, and in particular clinical trial agreements. Emory OTT has a group dedicated to just these agreements. I was able to meet with Daniella and Tammie, two of the team members. They shared with me some of their processes, contract language, and challenges. It’s a wild world!

To round out my time at Emory I met with Jim, from the patent group. Intellectual property protection, particularly patent protection, is very important and a challenging activity in Tunisian tech transfer. I hope that one day my office will be able to draft patents ourselves.

In short it was an exceptional week at Emory OTT and I’m excited to try and apply some of these methods in my office. I also enjoyed my first visit to Atlanta where I did some sightseeing, shopping, and seeing in person one of my favorites—a professional basketball game!

Oussama Ben Fadhel