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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