AUTM 2015 Western Region Meeting: Highlights

Donning cowboy hats and an honorary Calgarian status, attendees gathered on September 10 and 11, 2015 for the Association of University Technology Managers® (AUTM) Western Region Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Western-themed event harnessed the spirit of adventure and exploration to bring together technology transfer professionals for networking and knowledge sharing. Ken Porter and the AUTM team at Innovate Calgary executed a well-run, fun, and educational experience.

The Drive to Go

Representing were Jeff McCormack, CFA, and Managing Director for and Joe Barone, CPA and Vice President for values its university relationships and believes it has a unique solution for university technology problems.  By attending AUTM meetings, is able to meet with current and prospective customers in a beneficial environment to not only discuss solutions, but also gain further insight into the challenges and opportunities that technology transfer offices often face.

The Roundup

Contingents from the Western United States and Canada brought the meeting’s attendance to approximately 200. This included professionals working with technology transfer in universities, intellectual property services, energy, pharmaceutical, government agencies, and more. In an atmosphere charged by innovative thinkers, the networking events were friendly and productive.

How Contributed

McCormack contributed to a panel discussion, “Riding Herd on the Patent Portfolio”, alongside representatives from Stanford University and Husky Injection Molding. The panel featured perspectives from the academic, industrial, and service provider sides of technology transfer topics.  The discussion focused on the best methods for reviewing an institution’s patent portfolio, weeding-out the underperforming assets, and capitalizing on the strongest patent opportunities.

The Takeaway

Participation in the panel discussion revealed that universities and companies share many of the same patent portfolio management problems.  Entities solve these problems through a repeatable process with five key steps:

  • Screen the invention to determine portfolio fit
  • Perform due diligence on the invention
  • Make the capital commitment to protect the invention
  • Monitor the invention to ensure that it is achieving key milestones
  • Monetize the invention through commercialization of product or license

Key takeaways from other sessions include:

  • “Ensure projects nurtured by your office are aligned with the core agenda of your institution,” Gail Dykstra, University of Washington.
  • The Department of Energy has over 16,000 patents available for licensing, and a partnering service that provides “increased information and connections between potential industrial partners and laboratories”.
  • The mission of the Department of Defense is to support the War Fighter and the ultimate goal is to transition technologies from lab to market. The DOD also works with small businesses; ultimately, the DOD will be the buyer of the developed product.
  • The University of Calgary is actively looking to identify opportunities to encourage and improve academic entrepreneurship, tech transfer, and innovation.  Their approach is to organize networking opportunities around entrepreneurship and innovation for the campus community.
  • Big pharma is looking for ways to fill voids in their portfolios. When looking for tech transfer opportunities, the pharmaceutical company needs to see a clear hypothesis of what the university research is trying to do, as well as a list of the current top 20 research initiatives.
Moving Forward

Service providers, like, are a resource to help entities make better decisions and perform tasks where internal resources are lacking. will support patent managers at companies and universities with solutions to problems that arise during the review and maintenance of inventions/patents.  Most importantly, will work on delivering analytics that will help patent managers differentiate between high-quality and low-quality technologies.’s goal is to continue learning, growing, and finding the best paths to monetization for your innovations.

About helps Universities and Corporations make complex business decisions around their innovations. Our industry-leading solution portfolio enables businesses to increase revenue, optimize operations, and manage IP risk through insightful data analytics and publishing. For more information contact Joe Barone at