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Indicators of a Successful University Technology Transfer Office

In October 2014, the Association of American Universities (AAU) formed the AAU Technology Transfer Working Group with the task of reaffirming that the primary goal of university technology transfer operations is to advance the public interest. One of the group’s recommendations was to, “develop procedures and criteria for evaluating a university’s technology transfer units that do not rely solely upon measuring revenue generation, but focus on aligning the work of these units with the research university’s core missions of discovery, learning, and the promotion of social well-being.”

AAU, working closely with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), has surveyed technology transfer leaders and explored the literature concerning the improvement of technology transfer. Through these efforts AAU has identified common indicators of a successful university technology transfer office that go beyond revenue generation. These indicators range from traditional technology transfer metrics to student and faculty engagement goals.  While many of these indicators are not easy to measure, administrators who use a couple indicators from each category will have a better idea of how their office is supporting the university’s primary missions of research, education, and service.

Based on this work, AAU is in the process of creating a comprehensive set of goals and targets for administrators to consider when assessing and evaluating the success of their technology transfer operations.