The Impact of PROGRESS-TT Coaching and Mentoring Programme

The Impact of PROGRESS-TT Coaching and Mentoring Programme

PROGRESS-TT, through its Coaching and Mentoring Programme, has provided intensive one-on-one support to a selected group of 30 high-potential Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) in Europe.

When the project begun in January 2015, PROGRESS-TT aimed at providing intensive support activities to a maximum of selected 30 high-potential European TTOs in the year of 2016 and 2017. Towards the end of 2015, PROGRESS-TT has established and implemented an assessment methodology, namely an online diagnostic tool to determine a TTO’s growth potential, which was used in the selection process.

The calls for the Coaching & Mentoring Programme were launched twice; first in December 2015 and second in October 2016, where 15 high-potential TTOs were selected during each call and have received one-on-one support from their designated expert to coach and mentor them for up to 12 months. Positive feedback have been received from participating TTOs as well as the experts designated to coach & mentor the selected TTOs, confirming the need and effectiveness of such programme.

A more tangible result, derived from the PROGRESS-TT coaching and mentoring programme is Via Carolina, a success story of a matchmaking event for researchers, businesses and funders organised by the Centre for Knowledge and Technology Transfer (CPPT), the TTO at Charles University in Prague. Alan Kennedy, TT expert with PROGRESS-TT coordinator, MITO Technology, has been working with CPPT as part of the PROGRESS-TT one-to-one mentoring program to embed a strategic and entrepreneurial approach to capacity building within the TTO. [read the full article]

Find out more from three TTO Directors on the impact of the PROGRESS-TT coaching & mentoring programme, when asked the following questions.

Q: Would you recommend the PROGRESS-TT coaching and mentoring programme as an effective tool to build the capacity of a Technology Transfer Office?

Tom Flanagan, Hothouse Center Director at Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland, one of PROGRESS-TT mentors: “Yes I would certainly recommend finding a mentor that has the experience or knowledge that you feel that are missing to help you achieve your ambitions. There is research that shows that people with mentors have higher performance than those without.”

 

Thijs Spigt, TTO Director at Erasmus MC in the Netherlands, one of the selected 15 TTOs from the 1st call: “Yes, ours was one of the fortunate TTOs that were selected to join the first round of the PROGRESS-TT coaching and mentoring programme. It was an experiment for us, as we thought we would probably not be eligible for joining the programme (being from a Medical Faculty in North-Western Europe with some experience and history in TT already, although with limited success. Lucky us, it turned out that we were selected, due to the fact that some of the foundations of our TTO were well established but there was ample room for improvement. We –the whole team of TTO at Erasmus MC—experienced the programme as very useful, especially due to the personal coaching. With the personal coaching and the discussions we have had on the set up of different aspects of the TT-work, such as the mandate, the focus, the screening, entrepreneurship, financing etc. were very fruitful.”

Jakub Kruszelnicki, CTT Director at Cracow University of Technology in Poland, one of the selected 15 TTOs from the 2nd call: Definitely mentoring programme is highly recommended for all TTOs working with public research organisations. Even if we think that it could be more beneficial for young TTOs I can assure that our 20 years of experience did not gave us a full knowledge on how to approach our technologies. The technology transfer is a constant learning by doing process and using PROGRESS-TT best practices cases as a background for improvement gave us more holistic perspective on what we can implement as a team.”

Q: What does coaching and mentoring mean for you? What are the key ingredients in a successful coaching & mentoring relationship?

Tom: “Mentoring is about understanding the environment and the ambitions of the mentee, then helping them move towards achieving their ambitions, one step at a time, leveraging known best practices and developing new ones as needed. There are many ingredients but if we bring it down to just three.  I would say the most important is trust.  You must be able to trust that your mentor has your best interests at heart. They have to be someone that you can open up to and share the real challenges you face.  Secondly they must be knowledgeable and have answers or point you in the right direction to find answers. And finally they must be someone you respect and want to impress, so that you will do what they advise to achieve your ambitions and make the process a success for both of you. ”

Thijs: “As stated above, it is the shaping and sharpening of the own ideas within the particular circumstances of our TTO that make the personal discussions so helpful. With the PROGRESS-TT programme I visited several other TTO’s in Europe, and I experienced that they all have their own style and working processes that make sense within their environment. By discussing why it works for them, it helped me to create ideas and arguments how and why I would introduce and use certain of these elements within our environment. The coach we got was not only experienced in the field and helped us to define our focus areas with authority, he also brought his network in and gave us an insight how other experienced TTO’s organised their workload.“

Jakub: “In PROGRESS-TT coaching and mentoring process we have benefited from our expert’s knowledge and expertise to re-design our approach for our portfolio valuation methods and we have managed to draft a proper Proof-of-Concept scheme which we have funded and implemented via national resources. PROGRESS-TT mentoring programme at Cracow University of Technology is perceived as a great success. It has not only analysed our processes and methodologies for approaching research results but also created sustainable relationship with the mentor that goes beyond the project. We consider not only benefiting from this relation but also learning the mentor about our national particularities of technology commercialisation reality which has created a win-win dynamics. Our success in coaching and mentoring programme is based on involvement of the widest possible group of people that act as decision makers in our ecosystem. We have been working and reporting not only with our Special Purpose Vehicle company but also directly with Rector for Science as well as Patent Attorneys Office. Beyond our individual TTO mentoring we have also created the links with other national TTOs that have been involved in PROGRESS-TT parallel to mentoring. PROGRESS-TT coaching & mentoring programme is also a good opportunity to build the national and European network of TT experts and create synergy in TT ecosystem to bring our common problems to high level institutions. The programme is also a great opportunity for team management. The external expert cannot only be a mentor for TT processes but also a trigger to solve other, “soft” problems using their expertise in negotiation or even mediation within the team.”

 

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Via Carolina, A Success Story

Via Carolina, A Success Story

In June 2017, the Centre for Knowledge and Technology Transfer (CPPT), the TTO at Charles University in Prague, organised an Expo, Via Carolina, to showcase their research and Technology Transfer capability to students, staff and invited guests from the worlds of business and finance.

The day featured an introduction from the rector a round-table discussion on innovation in Czechia and presentations from inventors and experts in TT and early-stage funding. The main expo event presented the research capability, projects ready for investment and some examples of products already commercialised from each of the universities faculties.

Alan Kennedy, TT expert with PROGRESS-TT coordinator, MITO Technology, has been working with CPPT as part of the PROGRESS-TT one-to-one mentoring program to embed a strategic and entrepreneurial approach to capacity building within the TTO. CPPT employs Technology scouts who are also members of the research faculties, to reach out to potential inventors and connect them with the TT process. A key element in the mentoring program is to come up with a way to take new invention disclosures in systematic way, that links the scouts to CPPT and shows a seamless and professional TTO to the researchers. Alan has been helping the TTO staff and the scouts to work together to make this happen. The scouts and the TTO staff were out together at Via Carolina, presenting new technologies and the services offered by the TTO and showing how all the elements come together to commercialise IP.

Alan also advised CPTT in the introduction of new branding for the TTO which provided a very professional, high impact background to the day. The day was a great success – well attended and well praised by the academics and business professionals alike and paves the way for this to become an annual “Matchmaking” event for researchers, businesses and funders.

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Voice your opinion

Voice your opinion

We would like to thank all of you who have supported and participated in PROGRESS-TT. Now that the project is coming to an end, we have both an opportunity and an obligation to report back to the European Commission.

By completing this short survey you can ensure that the voice of the user community is further reflected in the final report. Many of you have participated in training under the PROGRESS-TT and many have supported the project in other ways therefore, it is important to hear the impact of our outreach.

Please take 5 minutes to let us know your thoughts.

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The PROGRESS-TT coaching programme is running at full speed

The PROGRESS-TT coaching programme is running at full speed

The beginning of 2017 has been very busy on the front of PROGRESS-TT’s coaching programme. Whilst the first batch of 15 TTOs selected in June 2016 has been proceeding with the delivery of the action plans, a new cohort of 15 TTOs has started working with their assigned coaches as of 1st February. In total 30 TTOs and 15 coaches are therefore in the midst of the delivery of 360 days of face-to-face, personalised support based primarily on a coaching approach.

Each case is interesting and brings its own challenges; for example, in the case of Christophe Haunold and the Cluster of three Italian Technology Transfer Offices looking the coach and the TTO staff involved are looking at defining a model of collaboration to ensure sufficient critical mass of IP and of competences to commercialise. Christophe claims that “working with a cluster is a day-to-day challenge: finding a compatible agenda, looking for common goals and practices, identifying shared objectives… But this is also the most promising path for development, as mutualisation, joined process and tool building can lead to highly augmented results. The first amazing consequence is to have close colleagues taking the time to deeply think about their common future.”

Another particularly interesting case is that of Tom Hockaday currently coaching Ascenion in Germany to set up an early stage fund. Sam White in charge of the activity with Tom says: “Germany invests an incredible amount of money in early-stage research and development and has a long and proud history of impressive scientific outputs, its research institutions and researchers among the best in the world. However, unlike other countries, particularly the UK and US, the flow of capital into early-stage investment funds over recent years has been very limited. This environment represents an enormous opportunity to create a new and unique investment vehicle, however challenges abound. The greatest of these is securing capital commitments and establishing a cohort of cornerstone investors. Critical to the success is (i) creating a concept that balances the interests of both strategically-focused and financially-focused investors, (ii), establishing a team and network of partners that can execute on the concept (iii) ensuring access to top-tier innovation and deal-flow.” Despite the challenges, Tom says that the “work with Ascenion for the Spinnovator Fund is progressing very well, and the Ascension team are very focused on presenting the opportunity and attracting investment.”

In Lisbon, at the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), a school of engineering part of the University of Lisbon, Andrea Basso is working together with  the technology transfer team on Critical Areas of Focus 1 &2 (scouting and valuation of IP), he says: “Thanks to the energy and the commitment of the Technology transfer office and the senior management in IST we were able to make very good progress on both the scouting and opportunity assessment processes  involving in the refinement phase also  Venture Capitals, PhD students, professors and incubators in Lisbon”

Finally, PROGRESS-TT is currently organising a side-session at the forthcoming ASTP-Proton Annual Conference in Budapest to gather coaches and TTOs, and discuss lessons learnt and exchange on the final activities before completion of all interventions by the end of June 2017. Busy but extremely interesting times indeed!

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Congratulations to 15 selected TTOs in receiving the Capacity Building coaching and mentoring programme

The second PROGRESS-TT call for Capacity Building of High Potential Technology Transfer Offices closed on 31 October 2016. Participation was high with 38 TTOs applying for the 15 spots on the programme. The review process of the received applications involving a panel of experts was completed in early December 2016 and selected TTOs have since been paired with a recognised technology transfer expert with at least seven years’ experience in the field and drawn from across Europe to help each TTO enhance and implement its vision.

On 16 January 2017, the first meeting will be held in Milan, Italy, where these 15 new coaching/mentoring partnerships will embark on a 12-day pilot support Capacity Building Programme. The programme, which is delivered free-of-charge to the TTOs, includes face-to-face site visits and online sessions. For a maximum period of six months, the programme will aim at providing selected TTOs with focus and time to try different approaches and techniques or adopt new measures to help achieve their technology transfer goals. The list of successful TTOs for the second PROGRESS-TT call will be published in the next issue of our newsletter as we are finalising the formalities to confirm the collaboration.

Since June 2016, a first cohort of 15 European TTOs is benefiting from the PROGRESS-TT support programme and are receiving coaching and mentoring. Participants have been enthusiastic about their experience thus far: James O’Sullivan, TTO manager in Ireland, says that “to date the TTO in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has found the PROGRESS-TT programme very useful in providing ‘time out’ to allow strategic dialogue and thinking with an external mentor.  This strategic dialogue has resulted in a structured plan which has a series of key activities for the TTO to undertake.  The first of these activities has been to engage with a research performing organisation with a very high level of success in developing spin out companies through an entrepreneurship programme.  As a result of this engagement WIT is now exploring the opportunities available to the Institute to further develop our existing services. We are very excited!”

We congratulate the new group of 15 TTOs on getting through and look forward to a fruitful collaboration!

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38 applications have been nominated: results to be announced in December

On 31 October 2016 the second call for Capacity Building for Technology Transfer of PROGRESS-TT officially closed. Out of 45 complete applications submitted, 38 have passed the thresholds and will now be reviewed by a panel of experts. Results will be announced early December, where up to 15 applications will be retained to receive coaching support from January 2017.

Each selected TTO will be paired with a recognised technology transfer expert with at least 15 years of experience in the field to help the TTO enhance and implement its vision. Up to 15 new coaching/mentoring partnership will be put in place over a maximum period of six months, with up to 12 days of interaction available free-of-charge, including face-to-face site visits and online sessions, all aimed at providing the TTO with focus and time to try different techniques or adopt new measures to help achieve its technology transfer goals.

The PROGRESS-TT project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 643486