Enhancing Global Impact – Hosting International Technology Transfer Professionals

In order to positively enhance the global impact of technology transfer, Tufts Tech Transfer engages in a number of targeted activities which include the hosting and teaching of international technology transfer professionals. Tufts Tech Transfer recently hosted Janine Chantson as part of Massachusetts-South Africa Technology Fellowship Program (MSAT).

The MSAT program brings emerging leaders from South Africa to Boston for five weeks of internship in high tech companies.  Janine is a technology transfer professional from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).  During her visit Janine gained a greater understanding of how Tufts Tech Transfer manages the IP portfolio of Tufts’ technologies and the commercialization and licensing process.  Erika Bechtold, Licensing Associate, completed a reciprocal visit to South Africa in July 2013.

Janine discusses her work placement experience:

My aims from this placement at Tufts Tech Transfer was firstly to get practical experience, to develop new insights into the professional approaches to common issues in technology transfer, and to broaden my understanding of the workings of a US tech transfer office.  While there are differences in the structure and operating model compared to back home, there are remarkable similarities in our strategic goals (improving service to clients; improving operational effectiveness; enhancing industry connections; playing a leading role in the organization’s innovation ecosystem) and the challenges we face as technology transfer professionals (limited resources; research funding constraints; few serial inventors; ongoing pipeline development).

The real differences lie in the external environment. There is no doubt that Boston has a world-class entrepreneurial ecosystem. There are abundant opportunities for learning, collaborating, networking, and exchanging ideas. In the short time I’ve been in here there there’ve been the weekly Venture Café roundtables, a MATTO seminar, and the Tufts $100K Business Plan Competition presentations. This is just a small sample of the events taking place all the time in the greater Boston area.  Another aspect driving entrepreneurship is the strong venture capital system in the US. Although access to VC may have taken a dip in recent times due to the relatively poor US economic conditions, the US is nevertheless far ahead of South Africa. There is also much more ease of access and availability to seasoned high tech entrepreneurs as licensees, consultants, mentors and/or advisors. The vicinity of leading institutions such as MIT and Harvard University, adds to a rich, competitive landscape that helps fuel innovation.

I am grateful to the colleagues at Tufts tech Transfer for sharing their experiences with me and for allowing me to work together with them on their projects.  I look forward to incorporating my learning into my home workplace.  Erika Bechtold will pay a reciprocal visit to South Africa in July 2013, and I trust that the experience will be as enriching for her as it has been for me.