While we have been producing podcasts for 15 months now, we have just finished our first full calendar year and thought it timely to take stock of the journey to date.

We have been honoured to have our guests candidly talk to us about their experiences and perspectives on technology transfer.
We cannot get the show done without our phenomenal guests, so my deep thanks to you for making yourselves available, your feedback on the production and amplification through your networks.

The podcasts have broadly fallen into 3 general themes:

  • elements of technology transfer
  • technology areas
  • case studies.

The exploration of the elements of tech transfer has been broad but far from complete. A trend that we’ve observed over the past few years is the increasing emphasis on start-ups and new venture formation, perhaps leaving aside the more ‘traditional approach’ of development and licensing with established corporate entities. While the dynamics of corporate innovation have indeed changed over the past few decades, it was interesting touching on this area with Rosanna DeMarco and Julian Turecek (from a more corporate perspective) and David Mitchell and Lindsay Adler (from a research organisation perspective).

We also touched on the issue of timing. This was really highlighted for me personally this year with the loss of my close friend Lachlan MacKenzie. However, time and timing are recurring concepts across a number of our conversations, notably with Alison Haitz (exploring R&D clock speeds), Paul Bryan (and his example around technology and policy) and the time after the deal is done with Ed Fish (and Health SenseTM high amylose wheat). It became apparent through our discussions that (any) technology coming to market and its success or otherwise has a timing element to it. When reflecting across the technologies I have been involved with, there are clear examples of technologies coming too early to market (such as CSIRO’s LandguardTM technology which enzymatically degraded pesticide residues) through to those that are too late (that either battle on for years leading to investment drag and / or poor returns or become closed programs). One might say that there is a ‘Goldilocks Factor’ in all of this, trying to be not too early or not too late, but just right!

Another factor amongst the elements of tech transfer that emerged was the concepts of diligence and accountability. While these are covered specifically by Stephen Angus (and the Chief Veracity Officer) and Victor Pantano exploring the importance of IP due diligence, there was a broader theme around these concepts that emerged, when discussing corporate perspectives, financing and within elements of the case studies that were shared. How much due diligence is actually done as markets, money and people chase the next ‘thing’? Perhaps we are seeing some of that answer in the areas such as alternative protein and hydrogen where consumers and thermodynamics (respectively) are having a huge impact on their technological and commercial prospects.

We had the opportunity to look at a few technology areas with Maurice Moloney (protein), Oleg Werbitzky (fermentation) and Dave Moore (agriculture innovation in Australia). We found it useful deep diving into specific areas and then teasing out what some of the tech transfer challenges in these areas might look like. The conversation with Dave offered some new approaches to how innovation could be approached in Australian agriculture in discussing some of his PhD thesis.

We received a lot of feedback on our case studies and we were privileged to have Ray Miller (DuPont’s SoronaTM technology), Paul Bryan (Chevron aromatics production) and Victor Pantano (Digital Core) share their journeys. While these are inherently different technology spaces (biotechnology, petrochemicals and digital respectively) (and yes I could mount an argument that they’re all similar through the common thread of technologies supporting production of materials), common themes emerged such as timing (as mentioned earlier), persistence from advocates, corporate knowledge (in that the organisational history effects the starting point of the journey) and the need for market intelligence to drive new value creation (by either identifying gaps in markets or markets in gaps – to paraphrase Dave Moore).

I feel that the strongest thread that comes through my discussions is that relationships matter! People drive technology transfer – not technologies, institutions, corporations or markets. I believe that the valuing relationships reflects not only the individual but the organisation with which one associates oneself. It was touched on with Lindsay and David in their discussions around the role relationships play in their tech transfer activities. I felt it was further reinforced through our conversation with Stephen where veracity demands strong relationships if feedback is to be well received and dealt with constructively. In almost all our discussions, relationships underpinned progress with transactions and ultimately the impact arising from those transactions.

I have taken great joy from getting this series underway. My deep thanks go to Ross Payne who produces our podcasts and Gina Drummond who has successfully wrestled with the technologies involved to get our podcast onto our website, Spotify, Apple podcasts and Google podcasts. We all hope that you have taken something away from investing your time in listening to the podcasts. We have appreciated the feedback, likes and amplification of the episodes and hope that you will be kind enough to continue to spread the word about the Tech Transfer Talk podcast.