Recapping AUTM 2015: Our Experiences and What We Learned

Industry Posts

Recapping AUTM 2015: Our Experiences and What We Learned

Another year, another conference completed. This week our office attended the AUTM 2015 technology transfer conference. If you haven’t read our New Orleans blog post, I recommend reading it for some context on the conference. We had a great time from Sunday to Wednesday, but now it is back to the real world. A world where no one can come to a consensus on the color of a dress (sounds absurd, we know), and House of Cards has triumphantly returned for a third season.

For a little Friday fun, we wanted to share some highlights of our conference experience.

We arrived late Saturday, so Sunday was our first full day in the Big Easy. The day could not have been any more beautiful. It was 75 and sunny, which made for an absolute amazing afternoon of exploring. For the first time in my life, I was treated to the deliciousness that is beignets from Café du Monde. Sitting on the patio and those was absolutely phenomenal. After our afternoon exploits, it was time to head to the Hyatt Regency for the start of the conference.

To kick things off, we attended the fireside chat with Steve Blank. It was everything we thought it would be; an hour of invaluable insight from a man who has influenced our field. Below are some of our tweets that we thought exemplified what the talk and entrepreneurship is all about.

 

 

On Monday morning we were welcomed by some sounds of New Orleans.

 

 

Then we listened to Steven Johnson deliver an excellent keynote about innovation and how it spreads. If you haven’t checked him out, I recommend doing so.

 

The rest of the day was filled with lots and lots of learning. In the “Apps Across America” session we learned that we aren’t the only ones who struggle with how to market new applications and capture revenue from them. The consensus was that this is still very new and the process moves so fast. Therefore, it is hard to patent technology related to apps. The most successful practices were to copyright all the brand material, thereby helping to build awareness for marketing. Also, having one entity or account for uploading to the various app stores and then distributing revenue to the various parties was highly recommend. With this method, only one tax ID was required, as opposed to one for every app that is developed.

Entrepreneurship was a hot topic at this year’s conference. Previously the focus in the field had been on licensing to established companies. Yet, as the entrepreneurial bug continues to bite both faculty and students, tech transfer offices must be prepared to assist in these new endeavors. It was interesting to hear thoughts on this new phenomenon from large universities with double digit startups to smaller universities with only a handful. This was one of the most popular sessions with standing room only, so I expect this trend to continue to the AUTM 2016 meeting in San Diego.

In the afternoon, we attended a special interest group (SIG) on “Economic Development of Startups”, which opened with a debate on startup vs. spinoff. We did not realize it was such a debated issue, but came to know it is very important to define different types of companies to best measure economic impact. For clarity sake, AUTM defines a startup as a business with a license from a university and a spinoff is a business without a license. As the world continues to try and estimate the impact the economy receives from new tech companies, this will be an important definition.

Tuesday was a short, but informative day. We sat in on the Venture Forum for a peek inside the mind of a venture capitalist. During the forum, four venture capitalists from Louisiana and the Southeast took questions from the audience and discussed them in a roundtable fashion. Their take on entrepreneurship was very insightful. Some of the insight included metrics that venture capitalist look for before they will fund a startup. This is something we will definitely be incorporating into our strategies moving forward.

After a quick coffee break, we came back to the Venture Forum for the business plan competition. It was encouraging to see that others across the country are running similar style pitch competitions to those in Alabama. All of the businesses were quite unique, which made for an interesting session.

unnamed

Ben getting beat at Murgitroyd Madness

The highlight of the day came when I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in “Murgitroyd Madness.” What is “Murgitroyd Madness?” It was an arcade basketball shoot off hosted at the booth of Murgitroyd European Patent and Trademark Attorneys. Winning 15-7, my opponent heated up faster than the coffee at Café du Monde and didn’t miss during the all important final 10 seconds when made baskets are worth three instead of two. My final shot rolled around the rim for what seemed like a minute before finally deciding to not go in, and I lost 23-22. Cori, if you are reading this, good game to you ma’am.

 

On Wednesday, the final day, our very own Dr. Whitney Hough brought things home when she hosted the Physical Science unConference. During the session, there was outstanding discussion on a wide variety of topics from best practices of patenting and copywriting software to marketing successes and failures. Her session was very well received, as many audience members were very complimentary of her and the things we do here at the Office for Technology Transfer.

All in all, it was a great trip with many experiences. The take home for us was even though we are a small office; we seem to be on the right track. In some cases, like our marketing efforts, we may even be trend setters. Alas, it is back to the grind, which should be a little easier with all of our new found knowledge. Now, if we could all just decide what color “The Dress” is, the world would be a better place. (Team Blue and Black!)

 

Another year, another conference completed. This week our office attended the AUTM 2015 technology transfer conference. If you haven’t read our New Orleans blog post, I recommend reading it for some context on the conference. We had a great time from Sunday to Wednesday, but now it is back to the real world. A world where no one can come to a consensus on the color of a dress (sounds absurd, we know), and House of Cards has triumphantly returned for a third season.

For a little Friday fun, we wanted to share some highlights of our conference experience.

We arrived late Saturday, so Sunday was our first full day in the Big Easy. The day could not have been any more beautiful. It was 75 and sunny, which made for an absolute amazing afternoon of exploring. For the first time in my life, I was treated to the deliciousness that is beignets from Café du Monde. Sitting on the patio and those was absolutely phenomenal. After our afternoon exploits, it was time to head to the Hyatt Regency for the start of the conference.

To kick things off, we attended the fireside chat with Steve Blank. It was everything we thought it would be; an hour of invaluable insight from a man who has influenced our field. Below are some of our tweets that we thought exemplified what the talk and entrepreneurship is all about.

 

 

On Monday morning we were welcomed by some sounds of New Orleans.

 

 

Then we listened to Steven Johnson deliver an excellent keynote about innovation and how it spreads. If you haven’t checked him out, I recommend doing so.

 

The rest of the day was filled with lots and lots of learning. In the “Apps Across America” session we learned that we aren’t the only ones who struggle with how to market new applications and capture revenue from them. The consensus was that this is still very new and the process moves so fast. Therefore, it is hard to patent technology related to apps. The most successful practices were to copyright all the brand material, thereby helping to build awareness for marketing. Also, having one entity or account for uploading to the various app stores and then distributing revenue to the various parties was highly recommend. With this method, only one tax ID was required, as opposed to one for every app that is developed.

Entrepreneurship was a hot topic at this year’s conference. Previously the focus in the field had been on licensing to established companies. Yet, as the entrepreneurial bug continues to bite both faculty and students, tech transfer offices must be prepared to assist in these new endeavors. It was interesting to hear thoughts on this new phenomenon from large universities with double digit startups to smaller universities with only a handful. This was one of the most popular sessions with standing room only, so I expect this trend to continue to the AUTM 2016 meeting in San Diego.

In the afternoon, we attended a special interest group (SIG) on “Economic Development of Startups”, which opened with a debate on startup vs. spinoff. We did not realize it was such a debated issue, but came to know it is very important to define different types of companies to best measure economic impact. For clarity sake, AUTM defines a startup as a business with a license from a university and a spinoff is a business without a license. As the world continues to try and estimate the impact the economy receives from new tech companies, this will be an important definition.

Tuesday was a short, but informative day. We sat in on the Venture Forum for a peek inside the mind of a venture capitalist. During the forum, four venture capitalists from Louisiana and the Southeast took questions from the audience and discussed them in a roundtable fashion. Their take on entrepreneurship was very insightful. Some of the insight included metrics that venture capitalist look for before they will fund a startup. This is something we will definitely be incorporating into our strategies moving forward.

After a quick coffee break, we came back to the Venture Forum for the business plan competition. It was encouraging to see that others across the country are running similar style pitch competitions to those in Alabama. All of the businesses were quite unique, which made for an interesting session.

unnamed

Ben getting beat at Murgitroyd Madness

The highlight of the day came when I snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in “Murgitroyd Madness.” What is “Murgitroyd Madness?” It was an arcade basketball shoot off hosted at the booth of Murgitroyd European Patent and Trademark Attorneys. Winning 15-7, my opponent heated up faster than the coffee at Café du Monde and didn’t miss during the all important final 10 seconds when made baskets are worth three instead of two. My final shot rolled around the rim for what seemed like a minute before finally deciding to not go in, and I lost 23-22. Cori, if you are reading this, good game to you ma’am.

 

On Wednesday, the final day, our very own Dr. Whitney Hough brought things home when she hosted the Physical Science unConference. During the session, there was outstanding discussion on a wide variety of topics from best practices of patenting and copywriting software to marketing successes and failures. Her session was very well received, as many audience members were very complimentary of her and the things we do here at the Office for Technology Transfer.

All in all, it was a great trip with many experiences. The take home for us was even though we are a small office; we seem to be on the right track. In some cases, like our marketing efforts, we may even be trend setters. Alas, it is back to the grind, which should be a little easier with all of our new found knowledge. Now, if we could all just decide what color “The Dress” is, the world would be a better place. (Team Blue and Black!)

 

About the Author

Ben Bickerstaff

Ben Bickerstaff is a Licensing Associate at the Office for Technology Transfer. He received an MBA and Master's of Civil Engineering from The University of Alabama.