Universities and their tech transfer offices have an impressive amount and depth of patents and other forms of intellectual property, a point that was really highlighted for us at the recent AUTM Annual Meeting. A topic that kept being raised, however, was how the strategic management of university patent portfolios fits overall into resource allocation and budgets. With the growing interest in launching spin-offs, start-ups, and generally more effectively monetization of IP assets, what role does strategic IP management play in the focus and responsibilities of tech transfer professionals?
Out of obvious necessity all universities have a system in place for how to administratively manage their patent portfolio, whether it be a modified excel spreadsheet or a project management software installed in-house. What they don't all have (at least based on the feedback we heard), is a large budget to spend nor a driving motivation to focus on new solutions for projects other than research, getting published or future funding, such as a business-like monetization of their IP portfolio. At the same time, there is an increasing pressure, accompanied by a growing interest, at university tech transfer offices to be more strategic in the management of IP portfolios, to attract more licensing agreements, as well as interest from VCs and angel investors to successfully launch more product-driven spin-off start-ups. A few years back, Tim Cook published an excellent summary of the situation on the IP Handbook website, 'The Role of Technology Transfer Intermediaries in Commercializing Intellectual Property through Spin-outs and Start-ups'.
With this focus comes the need, or at least benefit of presenting a clearly organized and easy to evaluate IP portfolio. Docketing systems, spreadsheets and other content management tools are effective for administrative purposes, but it's worth the time to seek out efficient options to move IP management from a defensive policy to one of strategic growth and increased revenue opportunity.
With IPfolio, we offer a flexible, easy to use, collaborative tool that helps you organize and visualize your entire IP portfolio (including patents, trademarks, inventions and brands) and then use intuitive reporting to present a thorough understanding of your IP assets and make strategic business decisions to move forward. Take a few minutes to check out the product's features, or get in touch with us to arrange a quick demo and see what we're talking about.