The Association of Technology Transfer Professionals (ATTP), an alliance of fourteen knowledge exchange, knowledge transfer and technology transfer (KE, KT and TT) associations including SARIMA, has recently designated the status of Registered Technology Transfer Professional (RTTP) to both Mrs Ravini Moodley, Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Manager of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Mr Philip Hoekstra, Intellectual Property Manager of the University of Cape Town (UCT). Congratulations, Ravini and Philip!
The RTTP status gives successful applicants credibility in over 60 countries around the world as an expert in KT, KE & TT. A list of RTTPs is published on the ATTP website. https://attp.info/current-rttps/
Currently, there are 13 professionals in South Africa with RTTP status.
Below is an interiview carried out by Anita Nel (SARIMA committee member, CEO of Innovus and Chief Director: Innovation and Busines Development, Stellenbosch University, South Africa) with Ela Romanowska (please click here to access Ela’s CV).
Tell us more about yourself – who you are, where you are, your experience as a TT professional and what you currently do in your organisation.
I am an Engineer, a developing parent, and hugely passionate South African (with a little Polish roots in the mix). I have been involved in funding technology development & associated start-ups, and have managed large R&D projects. I have served in a variety of strategic roles in my day job (Innovation Support @Wits Enterprise), in start-ups (e.g. Robonica, SmartSpot and others), and board/other roles (e.g. SARIMA, Innovation Hub InvestCo, Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, Ministerial panel to review IPR Act and NIPMO, etc). When I look at everything I commit to, I feel a little daunted. But that is how it works in this space, the more you volunteer and engage, the more you are able to contribute to building a vibrant innovation eco-system supporting our institutions, and across South Africa. Though I love my day job and that is hectic to begin with, there is a need to build capabilities and capacity and to align public policies and support with implementation on the ground. So I over-commit (!), and feel deeply privileged to have had such incredible opportunities to participate in ‘tech transfer’, at many levels, over two decades.
Why did you apply for RTTP?
There are very limited opportunities to study “technology transfer” – MBAs and related degrees available in South Africa are mostly focussed on the corporate innovation pathway. The few programmes that do exist are overseas. One also has to acknowledge that much of what I do has to be learned experientially – understanding how to develop a commercialisation strategy (and IP strategy to support that), how to raise funding for technology development, and capitalising and starting companies, negotiation skills, etc. So the opportunity to obtain international status as a professional in this discipline, was very attractive. I am proud of my RTTP status, and although I am not typically status conscious, it is nevertheless recognition what I am capable of in my work.
Has RTTP benefitted you in your current position? (or “What do you consider to be the most important benefits of obtaining RTTP?”)
The most important benefit is what I stated above, that I am recognised as being skilled in this discipline, to the level of a professional. This also helps to communicate the contribution I believe I can make, in the absence of formal degrees.
What advice do you have for young Technology Transfer professionals?
Embrace the fact that to learn and grow in this sector, you have to experience the work. It is often very daunting and stretching. Find a coach/mentor – perhaps your immediate boss, perhaps someone outside of your organisation – who can support you in that learning journey. If you grab the bull by the horns, and seek assistance, you will start to be more and more confidant in the challenges of raising and managing funds, negotiating the dynamics and eccentricities of institutions, the research they conduct, and the multi-dimensional stakeholder environment we have to operate in. When that spin-off you helped create and nurture becomes self-sustainable, or better yet hugely successful, you will have a smile on your face for many weeks and months!