What do you think of when you hear technology transfer? Maybe you picture a university professor approaching the school's technology transfer office with an idea that has been the basis of her graduate team's research for years. The college then foots the bill to patent it, build a prototype, and license it to a startup for commercialization.
If that's what you thought of, your image has merit. Across the country, university faculty members are commercializing research through their schools' technology transfer offices. This process brings beneficial products to the world, boosts local economies, and creates wealth for the institutions and startup company founders.
There's another picture I'd like to paint for you. Imagine a doctor working at a local hospital who has an idea for a more efficient way to deliver oxygen to patients. He has a vision for this technology: one day it will be used in hospitals around the nation, saving each thousands of dollars every day. (Read more about this real-life example on Cleveland.com.)
This too, is a common occurrence throughout the United States, maybe even more so than the first example. Our experience at GLIDE—substantiated by data—suggests that two to three times more innovation might live outside the four walls of the university.
But for those community-based inventors who aren't working within a research university and don't have this well-known technology transfer process at their disposal, turning an innovation into a patented technology can be a daunting task. Students, healthcare professionals, teachers, engineers, machinists, technicians, computer whizzes, all kinds of people in the community harbor the genius needed to invent new things, but unlike their university faculty counterparts, they have been completely on their own—until now.
The Office of Community Technology Transfer (OCTT) at Lorain County Community College is filling the invention gap between universities and the greater community. Basically, the OCTT acts as the community's tech transfer office—open for application to any Northeast Ohio inventor. Here's how it works: An inventor within the community submits an application, the people at the OCTT vet the idea and will let the inventor know whether or not they believe a provisional patent application should be pursued (based on patentability and commercial merit). If filing a provisional patent is the next step, the OCTT will file the application with the Lorain County Community College Foundation covering the cost. What's more, the OCTT will also lay out a proactive, startup launch program to help the inventor drive the innovation to commercialization.
The goal of this office is to help commercialize technologies we know are arising out of the Northeast Ohio greater community. It works right into LCCC's commitment to job growth and economic development in our region. Creativity and innovation isn't limited to universities. And now, the inventors outside the college setting have a place to go when they decide to start a business around their new ideas.