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Shaking up the Tech Transfer Office

Under the leadership of Managing Director Nichole Mercier, the Office of Technology Management (OTM) is changing its mission, its work and its customer base.

Portrait of Nichole Mercier, Managing Director, Washington University Office of Technology Management

The Office of Technology Management at Washington University in St. Louis oversees technology transfer — the process of licensing intellectual property from the university to the marketplace. When Mercier was appointed managing director in spring of 2016, the office was fairly typical, focusing on business development, licensing and revenue-sharing. 

Mercier is shaking things up. Inspired by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton’s vision for innovation & entrepreneurship at WashU, she and her office are expanding on those functions in three principal ways:

  1. by providing exceptional customer service to university inventors;
  2. by implementing the Quick Start License; and
  3. by sharing the story of how university technologies are positively impacting society.

The office is also working to engage schools with which they have traditionally not worked, such as the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

A signature initiative of the OTM is the Quick Start License, which streamlines the contract negotiation process, making it simpler for the inventor and shortening the time to market. “We have done the quick-start license in as little as 30 days, and on average we have seen a 25 percent reduction in the time it takes to close a startup license overall,” Mercier says. “We are working on processes now to make more strides toward shortening the time a deal takes to close.”

“My vision is to define how we can pair cutting-edge university research with expertise and exceptional customer service from my office in order to create a pipeline of opportunities that can be beneficial to society.”

Read Tanya Yatzeck’s original article at EQSTL to learn more.