From the Director: Envisioning a Bright Future in 2019

This post is from Clifford Michaels, the Interim Executive Director of the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) at Emory. We asked the current interim director about his vision for OTT in 2019.

What is your primary goal for the year?

Cliff Michaels photo

Cliff Michaels

Last year, the university launched “One Emory: Engaged for Impact,” a new strategic framework initiative. We intend to use Emory’s refocused mission as our guidepost for 2019. The commercialization of university inventions is a major way in which Emory can have an impact on the world. At OTT, our overarching goal is to engage and support our greater university community. We intend to do this by creating and nurturing opportunities to commercialize Emory discoveries and inventions.

What additional objectives are you focusing and working hard to accomplish this year? Why and how?

Emory has experienced tremendous success and growth in research funding over the past five years. That increase in funding has resulted in new ideas, discoveries, and inventions making their way to OTT. However, corresponding growth in staffing and resources lags behind this growth in funding. We have embarked on a concerted effort to increase operational efficiency within our group by making use of technological solutions which are available.

Concurrent with this objective, we also are focused in the coming year on improving accessibility and ease for our faculty and researchers. For us, these dual objectives fit nicely together. In 2019, OTT will launch IdeaGate, an online invention disclosure submission portal, and ContractConnect, an online agreement portal. These platforms will enable streamlined internal processing internally and increase transparency between OTT and Emory researchers.

Similarly, OTT is also implementing the use of DocuSign for routing and signing common contracts (like CDAs) in 2019. These agreements serve as a frequent touchpoint in working with our researchers. Our hope is that tools like DocuSign will decrease turnaround time and increase faculty satisfaction with our office.

On another front, we are also testing out ways in which virtual meetings and office hours can be used to improve our accessibility to the research community and provide a virtual “face-to-face” connection. The underlying concept is that these types of interactions are more valuable than trading strings of emails and help build better partnerships between staff and faculty—strong relationships with our researchers are a key component to the success of OTT in the new year.