World-first career framework for Technology Transfer Practitioners

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Melissa Geue
Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia

Alastair Hick
KCA & Monash University

Strategic thinking, business and commercial acumen plus the ability to communicate and influence are some of the identified skills required by Technology Transfer Professionals (TTPs) to effectively take research to market says a 12-month study undertaken by Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA).

The practice of transferring intellectual property from publicly funded research organisations is relatively new. It is a practice which has emerged over the last 50 years or so, and has evolved as the needs of the research organisation have changed over time. Being such a new practice, the nature of the role of the commercialisation office and its employees (known as technology transfer professionals) has developed organically over time and varies considerably between institutions.

In recent times there has been increased external stakeholder pressures for research organisations to increase their commercial outputs. Via these communications, it has been evident the lack of understanding as to what technology transfer is as a practice, and the elements required to successfully take research from publicly funded research organisations to market.

Entitled "Knowledge Transfer in Australia: Is there a route to professionalism?" the new Framework is the result of intensive research where 103 TTPs, 31 stakeholders and 64 Australasian organisations were interviewed and surveyed.

The world-first career Capability Framework defines the skills, knowledge, behaviours and values required by a team taking research to market, and outlines career paths for those working in the role at different levels. In all it describes up to 200 desired capabilities for TTPs, divided into seven clusters and sixteen sub-clusters, and classified by development stages: early-career, mid-career and senior level.

The Framework provides benchmarks for TTPs, against which the performance of individuals and teams can be measured. It has been created for use by individuals, managers and stakeholders of the profession to improve recruitment practices, hone professional development requirements, communicate capability internally and externally, and enable informed self-assessment and career planning.

There is a clear case for the importance of the commercialisation of Australian knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship that is longstanding and widely endorsed. Rationales include: enhancing national economic competitiveness, facilitating commercialisation of research for the public good, establishing closer ties between publicly-funded R&D organisations and industry, enticing and retaining researchers of the highest quality, and providing another source of income for the R&D organisations.

It is hoped that the KCA Framework, which is gaining attention from counterparts globally, will aid in improving the translation of research, via upskiling of current practitioners, and encouraging greater support from research organisations in terms of recognition and resource for this important, specialised practice.

A copy of the report and the KCA Professionalisation Journey Case study can be found on the KCA website: