First Results on Capabilities in Tech Transfer – KCA annual conference

At this year’s Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) Conference “Raising the Bar”Natalie and Athena co-presented the status and latest results of the research project: Knowledge Transfer in Australia: Is there a Route to Professionalisation? The conference was held on 10 – 11 September 2015 in Melbourne.

Presentation Summary Wrap-Up

Raising the bar however, means knowing where the bar is first set.

A small yet important piece of the puzzle to designing our future as a profession is the understanding of who and where we are now. Understanding the scope of our roles, and what our stakeholders perceive this to be, and how we rank ourselves in our ability to perform.

We started by reflecting at an international level, with KCA’s membership to the Alliance of the Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals (ATTP) and how this translates in the Australian context for a professional to obtain the credential “Registered Technology Transfer Professional” (RTTP) and our understanding of what is needed in our role as technology transfer professionals.

Grant funding provided by Professional Standards Council (PSC)has provided the ‘kick start’ to develop a framework for Professional Development. Enabling KCA as a community of practitioners to come together and define our role as technology transfer professionals. The project has one simple aim – to increase the connectivity and understanding between practitioners and their stakeholders.

Literature Review

First phase of the project, the literature review, showed that there was limited literature on what was required in the role of a technology transfer professional. There were gaps.  The literature usually included entrepreneurial academics and/or entrepreneurial managers of start-up companies but not Technology Transfer Professionals (Noorlizawati et al 2015; Thorburn 2000; Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council 2002; Harman & Stone 2006). There was consensus that there is “greater pressure on universities to work with industry” (Mazzarol 2014; Macfarlane 2015; Department of Industry 2014; Miles 2015) and “Compared to similar economies, Australia has a lower percentage of researchers working in business enterprises but a relatively high percentage working in higher education“ (Pettigrew 2012).  The collection of job descriptions, job adverts and job titles showed some commonality but were widely ranging in their position titles and requirements across different organisations.

National Workshops and the Professional Development Framework

So with the second phase of the project to understand the role of a technology Transfer Professional, a series of workshops were held in 5 states (NSW, SA, Queensland, Victoria, WA), with participation of 60 professionals. Some were sceptical on the value, some were cynical regarding any change being imminent – but all were valuable in the response and their enthusiasm for discussion. The results of the workshops produced the first draft of the professional development framework that outlined the competencies – the Skills, Knowledge, Behaviours and Values required to perform the activities within an occupation, function, position or role to the standard expected in employment over the course of a person’s career. A copy of this framework was provided to those who attended the conference, KCA members and people participating in interviews or surveys.

Feedback on the Professional Development Framework – and benchmarking against the competencies

This draws to the third and current stage of the project – the necessity to gain a holistic view by gaining insight from a cross section of stakeholders.

The next phase of work entails feedback from technology transfer professionals throughout Australia as well as the stakeholders, internal and external. At the time of the presentation, 5 interviews were conducted and some of those insights shared.

To test the Professional Development Framework and better understand what other elements may need to be included there is a request to Technology Transfer Professionals throughout Australia to participate in the self-assessment survey:

The results of the surveys, the final version of the Professional Development framework, will be available in report for comment in January 2016.

Next Phase – Are we Professionals?

Beyond this project for our community to consider in the pathway to professionalisation are 5 key areas to consider – as described by the PSC as the 5 Es of professionalisation:

  • Education – what are technical and professional requirements to practice in knowledge exchange/ technology transfer?
  • Experience – what are the personal capabilities and expectations of experience required to practice in knowledge exchange/ technology transfer?
    • Must we have RTTP to practice or be in the process of obtaining?
  • Ethics – what are the expectations of practice and conduct?
    • Do we have a professional code of conduct?
    • Do we have an agreed business principles in practice
  • Examination – Do we need to self regulate?
    • Should we review and assess education, experience, conduct and compliance?
  • Entity (KCA) – Overall, should our association oversee & administer professional entry, the professional standards and compliance expectations?

This project forms a massive undertaking for this community, and is one step in the journey towards professionalism.

Participate – contact the project team

If you would like more information on the project please email For more information on the self-assessment survey, or to take the survey, click here.

We welcome industry, government or research stakeholders to share your insights, please contact Athena for an interview on

For a copy of the slides please click here.