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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