by Lynne Henkiel
The Economic Development Lab in the Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) at Georgia Tech recently developed and launched the Associate Level Innovation and Technology Commercialization Professional (ITCP) course through Tech’s Professional Education program.
This asynchronous course contains the latest instruction of best practices in technology commercialization, and utilizes the Asia Pacific Economic Council (APEC)’s Handbook specifically developed for its members’ use and reference of technology commercialization practices. The International Technology Transfer Network (ITTN) developed this handbook at the request of the APEC. The Georgia Tech ITCP course launched its pilot cohort in March 2021. Working with ITTN, EDL was able to create the course and translate it into the Mandarin language for the Chinese speaking population that was identified as the intended test audience. Delivered on-line in China, the course targets Chinese professionals with two years or less of relevant professional experience in the field of technology commercialization. It is intended to provide Chinese researchers, innovators, technology transfer professionals, technology commercialization professionals, and others in the field with a fundamental understanding of how to:
- feed more innovation and talent into research institutions and the local innovation ecosystem,
- energize technology transfer practices with leading edge commercialization methods to insure that more innovation is successfully commercialized in the market and society in an equitable manner,
- nurture the growth of local innovation ecosystems across a country to stimulate commercialization between industry, academia, government, and startups, and
- foster cross-border collaborations to move innovation into global markets. The educational materials will be applicable to professionals regardless of size of economy, development status, and location (Asia, Europe, Africa, Americas, Oceania).
China was selected as the pilot location for a variety of both strategic and opportunistic reasons. China is a rapidly growing market for technology commercialization professionals with well over 100,000 potential ITCP students. As the world’s two leading economies, it is critical that the United States and China work together in practical ways to establish globally accepted best practices. This can be accomplished through the ITCP training program. The U.S. State Department, Tech’s EI2, and the International Technology Transfer Network (ITTN) were closely involved in developing and vetting the APEC Handbook of Technology Commercialization which has been a key underpinning of the pilot ITCP program. This handbook establishes a consensus on some of the most important terminology, best practices, and know-how for innovation and technology commercialization professionals around the world. In addition, the ITCP program is strategically aligned with Georgia Tech’s commitment to global service, international impact, and economic development. While the pilot course was launched in China, the intent is to establish the ITCP program as an international standard to level the playing field for smaller and less developed countries. These objectives are directly connected to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Particularly, goal 4 – to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; goal 8 – to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; goal 9 – to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; and goal 17 – to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, convergence of unique capabilities, global connections, and impactful opportunities. Finally, China is a thought and opinion leader in the region which could lead to a rapid and smooth expansion of ITCP to other Asia Pacific countries.
As one of the largest and most comprehensive, university-based organizations in the world focused on the practice of innovation-led economic development and technology commercialization, Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute is globally recognized and uniquely qualified to champion the ITCP program. Additionally, Georgia Tech Professional Education has instructional design capabilities and technical framework for developing and delivering asynchronous remote learning at the scale needed in China. The city of Shenzhen is home to one of Georgia Tech’s flagship international campuses outside of Atlanta; the ITCP program will bring added reputational awareness and potential collaborations to this campus from across China. As Chinese is one of the strategic languages taught by Georgia Tech’s School of Modern Languages, the ITCP program will provide practical, cross-cultural, and enriching experiences for Tech graduate students learning Chinese, especially students enrolled in the Global Media and Cultures program.
Through this collaboration, the EI2 and ITTN teams have asynchronously executed four pilot cohorts containing 960 total students coming mainly from technology (40 percent), university, research and development (17 percent) and government (12 percent) careers. With an average student age of 36, and with more than half of all students having less than 5 years of experience, this program has been validated by its initial targeted audience. Even though this course targets students with almost no experience, students with vast experience also benefited from the course structure and content and reported they were not previously exposed to a formal and standardized course that covered the main topics a technology transfer professional should know. In terms of gender, the course has been almost equally attended by highly educated males and female students, with 11 percent of all students who participated in the pilot programs having a doctorate degree, 52 percent earning a master’s degree, and 31% having a bachelor’s degree. The role of entrepreneurs and startups in an innovation ecosystem (52 percent) and the role of universities and research institutes in an innovation ecosystem (57 percent) have been the two most learned topics and skills among the enrolled students. Nearly 80 of the total students who graduated from the ITCP course reported they were extremely likely (42 percent) and very likely (37 percent) to recommend this course.
In total, 785 Chinese learners have completed the ITCP Course to date and received a certificate from Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE).
Based on the positive feedback and interest in the technology commercialization topic expressed by the Chinese students, a principal level and senior level is under consideration for future development.