July 14, 2008

Innovative program brings global perspective to technology transfer at Case Western Reserve University

Resident affiliates provide two-way learning in global business deals

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To augment Case Western Reserve University's pursuit of partners and collaborators around the world, the university's Technology Transfer Office has launched a resident affiliates program with the appointment of its first resident, Andrea Frosini, IP manager in the Liaison Office at the University of Siena, Italy.

Through the new resident affiliate program Case Western Reserve recruits technology transfer professionals from other parts of the world to share best practices and to develop international capital and talent networks.

This innovative system of connections and information sharing will help expand Case Western Reserve's prominence in tech transfer. The university currently ranks number one among Ohio colleges and universities in gross licensing income and cumulative active licenses, according to a survey by the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).

"With our resident affiliates program, we are ensuring that the university truly has a world-class capability in technology transfer," said Mark Coticchia, vice president for research and technology management at Case Western Reserve. "We are fortunate to have Andrea as our first resident affiliate."

Technology transfer at universities such as Case Western Reserve is a complex process of bringing research and innovation from classrooms and labs to the marketplace. This process typically requires negotiating and executing licensing agreements with investors and commercial entities.

Even before arriving on campus, Frosini made note of the many differences in technology transfer between the United States and Europe. Universities in the United States have been involved in technology transfer for more than three decades while those in Europe only started their programs in the last few years. Rather than simply trying to drop the U.S. system into place in Europe, or vice versa, he advocates looking for specific points from one system and applying them to the framework of the other.

For instance, Frosini says that the United States leads Europe in the organization and tracking methodology of technology transfer. "Since I've been here, I've seen how important it is to have a good organizational structure in place," he said. "From when we first speak with the researcher and disclose the invention to the signing of the commercial licensing, all points of the process are tracked."

Frosini's lessons for Case Western Reserve also target global dissimilarities. "If you want to be successful at worldwide technology transfer, you have to be aware of the laws and procedures—which can be very different—in the countries you target," he said.

"For example, having a U.S. patent on an invention is fine if you are only looking at licensing partners in this country," he continued. "But to do business in European countries, Australia, Canada and elsewhere, you have to be familiar with local patent laws."

In addition to organizational structure and understanding legalities, networking is one of the most important components of successful technology transfer, according to Frosini.

"The technology transfer office is the interface between the invention and the companies bringing that invention to market," he said. "Knowing who, where, when and how to address the right people is so important. If you want to do business abroad, you must have a network in place to get things done."

The resident affiliate program at Case Western Reserve invites one resident at a time. Frosini will be at the university until the middle of July. A candidate from Hungary has been identified to participate in the program later this fall.

For more information contact Robert Townsend, 216.368.4440.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, July 14, 2008 12:19 PM | News Topics: Collaborations/Partnerships, HeadlinesMain, Staff, news

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