Teaching select scientists how to sell

“Past attempts to invigorate commercialisation have looked at industry and research as two different entities that need to be forced together,” says Science and Technology Australia. It has a better idea

STA has bought into the research commercialisation debate with a proposal that calls for a cadre of, “bench to boardroom scientists.”

“We should focus on equipping up to 2000 leading researchers with the skills to champion the translation of technologies,” STA suggests.

But rather than train them up through PhD programmes STA suggests recruiting existing early and mid-career researchers, “with a strong aptitude and EQ to be these key connectors to industry and then providing specialist skills training and support will be crucial in a quest to shift the dial on research commercialisation in Australia.”

Sound hard to organise? Not with STA there to help.

“We have a uniquely deep reach into the worlds of both research and industry. Our membership includes start-up incubators and scientists based in industry. This positions us to play a powerful partnership role to broker expertise, deliver commercialisation skills transfer and draw on proven track records of strong commercialisation success from our own leadership, membership and networks.”

As to picking research areas that will translate to commercial success, STA ambivalently approves of some of the ideas in an education department discussion paper, (CMM March 2), including,

*stage-gated funding: STA backs support for projects in “the nearly there” stage

* STA renews its call for a research collaboration premium in the Research and Development Tax Incentive

* and it calls for empowering researchers to connect with industry, “free from many of the more stultifying elements of university bureaucracy”

“Commercialisation projects located at a university could operate with strong autonomy, and could pay to use central university resources and be able to take on students in a co-supervisory fashion as many independent medical research institutes do.”