Episode 31 – Tech Transfer in Australia: The battle for talent and resources with Natalie Chapman

Feb 29, 2024

In this episode, we discuss the current challenges in tech transfer capacity, capabilities and resourcing within the Australian innovation system with Natalie Chapman. Natalie found her passion for tech transfer in her time at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) after a short stint in the finance sector. Missing the science, she found a way to combine her interests in science and commercial outcomes, bringing together technology and industry opportunities. In 2012, Natalie established gemaker, who provide tech transfer communications, consulting and advisory services to the Australian research and private sectors.

We explore the absence of the tech transfer community’s voice in current discussions around innovation and research, and the pathways to and interfaces with industry and government policies. We discuss the challenges that are being presented as multiple, arguably uncoordinated innovation programs are initiated from various government departments and statutory corporate entities. These efforts, while arguably well intended, are straining the available Tech Transfer Office (TTO) resources, be it through work volume or through loss of capacity as programs compete for talent to drive innovation and tech transfer. The problem is exacerbated by a lack of pathway and training for entrants to the profession which is compounded by a lack of industrial experience amongst new hires.

Natalie outlines the case for TTO investment, framed around the returns on public monies invested in research and innovation. This is a contrast to a more typical cost-centre framing when looking at organisational and divisional budget allocations. We explore FOMO, a related Australian innovation culture challenge (also related to the reluctance to say “no”), and the importance of managing risk through active portfolio management and market intelligence gathering to underpin decision making.

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