KTUR staff exchange: Learning through differences and building on commonalities

One of the goals of KTUR – Knowledge Transfer Upper Rhine is to intensify the cooperation between the transfer offices of the partner institutions and to create a common trinational network of knowledge and technology transfer. To achieve this, it is essential that the transfer actors get to know each other personally, exchange and learn from each other’s experiences. To this end, a first KTUR staff exchange took place in fall 2021: Dr. Aude Pélisson-Schecker, Innovation Manager at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany spent several days with team of SATT Conectus, the transfer office for, among others, the French universities of Strasbourg and Haute-Alsace. We talked to her in an interview about this unique opportunity.

What is your role at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) and how are you involved with the KTUR project?

At KIT, I am an Innovation Manager for Energy Technologies in the Technology Transfer department within the service unit IRM (Innovations and Relations Management) and the KIT Energy Center. I am part of a team of several innovation managers who specialize in specific topics.

Within the KTUR project, I share my experiences with the staff of other transfer offices. In part, I support the KTUR project managers in designing suitable formats to support knowledge and technology transfer (KTT) and cross-border cooperation in the Upper Rhine region. I am actively involved in several discussion groups that aim to establish a strong network of Technology Transfer Offices in the border triangle. Furthermore, I support the working group in charge of developing a digital information and exchange platform for KTT in the Upper Rhine valley.

Dr. Aude Pélission-Schecker, Innovation Manager at KIT
Dr. Pélisson-Schecker: “We all belong to the same large cross-border community” (Image: KIT)

What appealed to you about the idea of a staff exchange? Why did you choose SATT Conectus?

My main motivation for participating in this initiative was to share experiences and insights and to exchange on a very practical level about organizational and management aspects of technology transfer with a KTUR partner institution, such as organizational structures, local specificities and frameworks, processes, transfer formats and the support tools of the others.

I chose to visit SATT Conectus in Strasbourg because of their very interesting offer to mature technologies and bridge the so-called “valley of death”, which often prevents very good technologies coming from universities and research organizations to become successful innovations (such as a product, a process or a service on the market). Over the last two project years, I have also built up a very good connection with Antoine Parmentier, External Relations Manager at SATT Conectus.

Last but least, as a French person living and working in Germany close to the border, I also had a personal interest in this cross-border staff exchange!

How did the staff exchange with SATT Conectus unfold?

In October, I spent two days on site in Strasbourg. The staff exchange consisted of six face-to-face interviews with individuals and/or small group discussions on specific topics covering the whole range of expertise and activities of SATT Conectus: strategic vision, ecosystem relations, detection and contracting, maturation projects, IP Management and business development. Dr. Herrade Weis, a colleague from the Intellectual Property Management team at KIT, joined me one day to meet her counterparts in Strasbourg. I also had the opportunity to take part in two strategic internal online meetings to get a deeper insight into the daily work and the processes at SATT Conectus.

Confidentiality issues were easily solved beforehand via a bilateral Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

What did you take away, personally and professionally, from this exchange?

Overall, I acquired a broader vision on how technology transfer can be organized (there is not just a single way to do it). I received good tips from the French partners, shared do’s and don’ts as well as best practices. This experience also gave me an even better understanding of the French innovation ecosystem in the Alsace region, just a few kilometers from Karlsruhe.

I was also able to establish very good personal contacts and find possible team partners to jointly promote the cross-border transfer of energy technologies in the Upper Rhine region in the future. In general, I got the impression that we all belong to the same large cross-border community, even if we work in different countries and with different framework conditions.

Do you recommend this experience for other employees in the areas of knowledge and technology transfer? For which positions could it be interesting?

I would definitely recommend this experience! It could be very valuable for Innovation Managers, Business Developers, IP Managers, Relations Managers, for instance, but really for everybody eager to think a little bit outside the box, to discover other ways to work and to learn from the experience of others!

Thank you very much!