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Success Factors in Technology Transfer Oxford Case Study Tim Cook Director, Isis Innovation, University of Oxford Visiting Professor in Science Entrepreneurship,

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Presentation on theme: "Success Factors in Technology Transfer Oxford Case Study Tim Cook Director, Isis Innovation, University of Oxford Visiting Professor in Science Entrepreneurship,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Success Factors in Technology Transfer Oxford Case Study Tim Cook Director, Isis Innovation, University of Oxford Visiting Professor in Science Entrepreneurship, Said Business School

2 Tim Cook >BA Physics, DPhil Cryogenics - Oxford University >HNC Mechanical Engineering - Oxford Polytechnic >Diploma Accounting & Finance - Institute of Certified Accountants >Managing Director of tech based companies (1983 – 90) 7 yrs >Oxford Analytical Instruments >Microsystem Design Limited >Micrelec plc >Private Investor (1990 – 97) 7 yrs >Founding Managing Director Oxford Semiconductor >Founding Managing Director Oxford Asymmetry >University Technology Transfer (1997 – 2007) 10 yrs >Director Isis Innovation, Oxford University ( ) >Visiting Professor in Science Entrepreneurship, Oxford University (2006)

3 Contents Universities Academics and Industrialists Investors and Three Dimensions Oxford Results and Tricks Universities in a Commercial Environment

4 Speakers message >Knowledge transfer is stimulating communication between very different cultures >The cultures will not in general spontaneously understand each other >But there has always been the occasional multi linguist! >Therefore intermediaries are required >at least to start with >It only works if the intermediaries have a real understanding of both cultures >There is not a single recipe that always works >But there are some underlying principles

5 What are Universities for? >Research & Teaching >The creation and transmission of knowledge >These both have a major economic impact >Creative thinkers (in science, arts and humanities) >A workforce trained in some useful areas >But not all useful areas!

6 University Innovations >Range from inventions & new processes to new philosophies & political thought >Most of this talk is about the former but let’s not forget the others They may well have a more profound long-term impact on our lives

7 Why is it difficult 1 - Academics >Universities have developed a self consistent set of values and behaviours which have enabled some of them to survive and prosper for a long time (Darwinian) >This ethos can be summarised as: >The pursuit, preservation, development and dissemination of knowledge >Many of the most successful practitioners in universities are independent individuals who really see themselves as self-employed

8 Why is it difficult 2 - Industrialists >The commercial world has also developed a self consistent set of values and behaviours. These can be summarised under two headings >Internal coherence >All members of the company must have the same version of the master plan and work to it >Management accountability >The company is accountable to the shareholders and the employees to the company >These are not the same as university values

9 The Challenge Researcher >Self directed >Next step defined by yesterday’s results >Free exchange of ideas Commerce >Driven by external needs >Clear goals with shareholder commitments >Commercial confidentiality So we can expect it will be challenging to build a mutually trusting relationship “Academics never deliver” “Industry is out to cheat us”

10 Orthogonal Value Sets Academic axis € ->Research 2D Intermediary Research -> Products Commercial axis Licence or consultancy

11 An additional challenge >If we are talking about spinout companies, rather than consultancy or licensing there is a third axis >In addition to academia and industry there are investors >Investors are not the same as industrialists

12 Why is it difficult 3 - Investors >Investors have yet a third set of values and behaviours, which again are self-consistent but differ from both industry and academia >They evaluate an opportunity, invest, if it doesn’t perform they get out and try somewhere else >and what happens to the firm is not their responsibility >These are not the same as university or industrial values

13 The third axis Academic axis € ->Research € -> €€€ Investor axis 2D Intermediary 3D Intermediary Spin -out Research -> Products Commercial axis Licence

14 To summarise If it’s not working get out If it’s not working fix it If it’s not working find a workaround Evaluate Invest Monitor Coordinated plan Coherent activity Route is undefined at the start Lots of concurrent activities One companyOne major interest OutsiderInsider InvestorIndustrial ManagerAcademic

15 How it goes wrong >A company signs a licence with a university >The company asks for a commitment that >no-one in the University will work on anything that will devalue the company’s licence and >the university will offer the company any improvements that any of its staff make to the original invention >A year later a new academic joins the University who is a greater expert in the field than the original inventor >Can the University tell him that all his future work in the field is restricted for the benefit of the company?

16 The clash >This simple case exemplifies the issue: >The Academic does not see himself as a “bound employee” he feels he is essentially an “independent trader” >On the other hand the company has paid the University and can reasonably expect that the University will not devalue the product that it has sold

17 The common currency >The only real common values between these different civilisations are personal relationships >What about money? >Certainly they all deal in cash but the returns come in multiple currencies with undefined exchange rates >Academic return >Personal cash return >Personal feel-good return I would like to spend a bit if time expanding on this because I believe it is the most important point I have to make

18 Academics >Academics are our shareholders >Isis Innovation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oxford University >Which is owned by the academics >Academics are our customers >We only get to transfer knowledge from the ones who choose to come to us >Academics are our suppliers >Our raw materials are their inventions >So they have big impact on our future prospects

19 Initiation by researchers >All Isis Projects start with an approach from an academic >Of course we devote much effort to internal marketing to researchers >We make them welcome and they participate in all decisions but >They have to decide to start any new project

20 A = fn (S, C) A = Attractiveness of project S = Strength of science C = Commercialisability of academic Least attractive Most attractive Dr Quiet Attracting Inventions All the inventions in the University 0% 100%

21 The Beeson Gregory Project >Oxford needed a new Chemistry building costing €90m >The Department had raised €15m >If the University matched it government offered €45m >So the University needed €30m >Beeson-Gregory offered €30m for 50% of the University’s interest in Chemistry spinouts and licences for 15 years >Was this a good deal for Oxford?

22 Requirements for intermediaries >Must understand both value systems >Ideally should have lived in both >Must be fluent in both vocabularies >And able to translate >Must be trusted by both sides >So the academics will risk “being cheated” >And the industrialists will risk “having their time wasted”

23 Sources of intermediaries >University technology transfer offices >As long as they employ bilingual staff >Diplomatically adept property owners >Science parks, private developers >Public sector (government officers) >If they really do understand both values systems >The Professionals >Accountants, lawyers, consultants, investors, etc. >As long as they can suspend their self-interest long enough for the creative interactions to start >Divisive advisors inhibit the process >Protect their client and kill the deal

24 Results in Oxford

25 Spinout Managers - The Rowing Boat


27 Cashflow profiles b a c Time -> Cumulative Net cash in d

28 The difficulty >In the long term it is in everybody’s interest But >In the short term the costs are from a single party

29 Culture Change >All three must proceed together but the University must lead the change because.. >The ideas are in the University >If University provides TT resource,change will happen faster >Oxford pre-Isis 1 spin-out every 4 years, post Isis 8 per year >If the University doesn’t lead, the University may not receive its share of the benefits University entrepreneur culture University & its technology transfer resource Local professional environment

30 Executive (policies) Other academics Gene pool Commercially active scientists The University Tech transfer office

31 Students Brokers Itinerant managers Consultants Sub-culture in a barter economy VC’s Lawyers Head hunters PR agents Real estate Leasing Banks Accountants Specialist suppliers Other start-ups

32 Message for Government >We have some great universities >If you fund research you get more and better research >If you fund knowledge transfer you get more and better knowledge transfer >This gives a better commercial return on the research spend >and the return is disproportionately high >because you are investing in an under-utilised asset (research results) PS badly managed research, or badly managed knowledge transfer is a waste of money but does not devalue properly managed research or knowledge transfer

33 Success Factors Do >Expect it to be difficult >Work hard to understand the different civilisations >Invest in the interface >Use only intermediaries fluent in both value sets >Focus on building trust (particularly with researchers) Don’t >Tell them to understand each other (they won’t!) >Think you will ever get it all right >Despair

34 “Managing” your relationship with a university Walk along with the elephant >In whichever direction it chooses to go >Until it gets used to you Start to pull gently on your rubber band If you pull too hard or too suddenly >You will break your rubber band and >Have no further influence over the elephant The University You Like leading an elephant with a thin rubber band

35 But >Don’t think you will ever have complete control Cartoon by Stoney, Ravette Publishing Tony Lopez (Copyright)

36 Contacts Isis Innovation Ltd Ewert House Ewert Place Summertown Oxford OX2 7SG T E

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