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Technology Transfer: Making A Better World

June 23, 2014
As our dear friend, the late Howard Bremer was so fond of saying, the underlying principle of what we do is “bringing research discoveries to the market to improve the human condition.”

Technology transfer is a relatively young profession. Just a few years ago most people had never heard about it.

Today, more than 30 years after the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act, more eyes than ever before are focused on us and our efforts. From President Obama to the leaders of many other countries, all recognize the impact our profession has on the lives of people and economies of countries.

Moving university research into new products, services and startup companies is vital to our own economy. In the United States alone, more than 24,000 new discoveries were disclosed to universities in 2012.

Without effective technology transfer professionals to move those discoveries from university research labs to the marketplace, many of them would not become the life-changing products that we all enjoy today. University-led innovations enable Internet users to search the web more efficiently with Google, athletes to more quickly hydrate themselves by drinking Gatorade and businesses to reduce supply chain costs through the now ubiquitous zebra-striped bar code.

Our profession also benefits our community and improves the quality of people’s lives — in our neighborhoods and around the world. Visit AUTM Booth #2503. See videos from our Put a Face on It [LR1] campaign showing personal stories of lives forever transformed because of technology transfer. A young dancer gains graceful mobility with the help of the Rolling Dance Chair. A wheel chair user walks again with the aid of an exo-skeleton. Local South African healers earn a living with new jobs created around a novel, natural mosquito repellent. A mentoring program here in San Diego teaches children to make healthier choices.

The institutions attending BIO have many amazing stories just like these. Literally hundreds of stories of the transformational impact of technology transfer are retold in AUTM’s The Better World Project.

It takes extraordinary effort to move these ideas from the research lab to the public. After investing that effort and taking those risks, there is still no guarantee of success. Despite those challenges, it is clear from these inspiring stories of lives transformed, that technology transfer is making the world a better place.

Jane Muir spent the first decade of her career in the private sector and the past 20+ years in leadership roles in technology transfer at the University of Florida. In addition to her current role as Director of the Florida Innovation Hub at UF, she is the Associate Director in the technology licensing office.  She also serves as Director of UF Tech Connect.  Prior to that, Jane served as Marketing Director for the NASA Southeast Regional Technology Transfer Center in the College of Engineering.

Jane previously served as the Vice President for Professional Development for the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), where she developed and implemented training programs internationally.  She currently serves as AUTM’s President.

Jane graduated cum laude from Southwest Minnesota State University with a B.S. in Marketing and a B.S. in Business Administration & Management.  She has served on the boards of a number of organizations, and has been awarded numerous grants for technology-commercialization programs. Most recently she was the primary author on the $8.2 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to build the Florida Innovation Hub at UF.