Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Monday, August 01, 2005

How do I find technology?

JB asks how I find stuff, and doesn't say (buy I will put words in mouth) , especially with all of your ranting about how bad tech transfer web sites are?

To answer I will just walk through the process of going through things here.

There are a couple of classes of things we are looking for:

1. Improvements on what we have. We have launched products and we want the next generation of those products. R+D works on those to improve them. I am looking out for IP that could help with these or that R+D will trip over given the way they are working on it now.

2. Stuff from left field. These are ideas that we didn't know we are interested in, but on hearing them it is so obviously something we need to be doing.

3. Strategic direction. This is stuff that we know we need to do. Directions that we know we have to go in, but haven't yet started in to. These are things I won't talk to anyone about, but want the material for.

How do I find stuff that satisfy those needs.

A> Google
B> Email from tech transfer offices
C> PubMed
D> Meetings (Poster sessions)

Dealing with those in semi-random order:

I will deal with B first. I get a lot of email from tech transfer offices hawking their latest and greatest. They all get skim read, as currently I only get about 50/day. A lot of those are poorly directed and don't apply to us. Those may get deleted. The rest get saved in a folder as I have the google desktop search running on my computer, so in the future when I look for something I want my hard drive in the search as well to see if anyone has ever told me about something. I find stuff here that is still not on tech transfer sites, even though they have emailed it to me some months before. I would think these emails would primarily help with line extensions (#1 from above) but they are, to the best of my ability to tell, totally random. I don't even know how 1/2 these folks got my email address (although I make no attempt to hide it on the professional non-blog side of things). I am further confused for a lot of these emails why they think we would be interested in whatever it is, but I save them as disk space is cheap and I bet I can find it better on my computer than the internet if the time comes that we ever want that. This method of getting stuff is really good for point #2 above. We get left field stuff, but some of it resonates and we follow up on it. We have done deals off of these. Not a lot, but enough that I would say it works. I can say this with low enough readership now....but if everyone does it, the effectivness might fall off. Even then, I would still have them indexed on my hard drive so it should still be OK.

A and C are really a combination, and are primarily used for new areas we are going in to. We will decide, for a variety of reasons, we are going in direction X to make widgets. We have never been that way before. We need IP or ideas. Google gets fired up to look at who is estabilished in that area already. If a bunch of companies pop up, they will all be looked at. Who is small enough to buy? Are they all OEM'ing from somewhere? Where is that? Do they all site 1 university? etc... I need to understand more completely what is out there. After that, and because I can guarentee no University Tech transfer popped up in that search, I will go to PubMed. I will find people working in the area and start to contact the inventors that way. I will pull papers and read them and get as up to speed in the area as I can quickly (Ph. D. helps here, not sure what folks who can't pick up the science quickly do) so that I don't sound like a complete moron on the phone with them. Some of them will punt me to the tech transfer office. Others will try to be cute and do the whole thing themselves (evil bad. this rarely works). I am sure this is why most Tech transfer offices say "all our leads come through our inventors". We, on the other side, have no choice@!

Poster sessions at meetings are great. One of the reasons I am on the road a lot is to go to poster sessions at meetings. I skip most talks as they are canned nonsense. The big ones are big wigs saying as little as possible. The small talks are by a graduate studen/post doc who is normally scared out of their mind. The poster sessions are where you can see A LOT quickly, and have the ability to stop and talk to the people that did the work. They will talk, in general, freely about what they did and how they did it. You can get a sense if the work was well done, if they cut corners, etc.... and get an idea of the caliber of person you are deal. We get a lot from poster sessions that either I go to or others in the company go to.

SO - for the tech transfer office to get to me.

1. Put it on your web site, and make it indexed by a search engine.
2. Send an email. Every company has a way to get this information and to greater or lessor amounts read the email.
3. Have the inventor do what they are likely doing anyway, and go to shows. NOT to trade shows (the CHI series comes to mind here), but to shows like Experimental Biology or Keystone meetings or other normal scientific shows.

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