BACKGROUND

Historically in Chile, the academic and industrial sectors have been different worlds with very little communication. This is a missed opportunity for universities that can not only provide solutions for national industries but also patent their technologies to license them worldwide.

HUBS aims to provide a digital platform to manage technology transfer processes as well as a framework of operation for 20+ associated universities and research centers across Chile.

SCOPE

Design a web application with tools to manage each stage of the technology transfer process that also provides a framework to standardize processes, data models, and file management.

THE PROBLEM

Most of the technology transfer offices (TTO’s) in Chile do not have standardized systems or processes to patent the discoveries of their research teams to the market. This means that only a few can successfully license and commercialize their technologies. To change that two Chilean TTO associations (technology hubs) wanted to achieve the following:

  1. Standardize processes
    All TTO’s must have a single technology management model that goes from disclosure to commercialization.
  1. Standardize data models
    Establish standard ways of importing and exporting files as well as entering and managing information to improve the way the technology transfer process is managed.
  1. Improve Time to Market
    Reduce the time it takes to commercialize technology from disclosure to licensing.
  1. Reduce the Technology Gap
    Provide TTO’s with the same level of technology to manage their technology transfer processes.

DISCOVERY PHASE

Below are the personas we synthesized based on 10 user interviews across different roles such as IP managers, Tech Portfolio Managers, and Business Managers.

DEFINING THE SOLUTION

We conducted a Project Map session with the stakeholders to define the user stories to be considered in the project. 

With stakeholders, we prioritized the development process using tools such as a yes/no diagram, preliminary solution diagram, and an entity-relationship diagram to start structuring the database.

DESIGN PROCESS

The functionalities of the solution were categorized according to the different stages of the technology transfer process using affinity mapping. The categories to be developed in the first sprint were then prioritized using dot voting, leaving the others for the following iterations.

We had 12 months to develop the application so every month we would run design and development sprints as follows:

On each sprint, we conducted 1-on-1 interviews with stakeholders to find pain points and prioritize problems, brainstorming sessions with the engineering team to discuss solutions, interface design, and finally usability tests on prototypes and MVPs.

THE PLATFORM

We decided to start designing and developing the Portfolio Management and Technology Overview views first, considering that the former would be the starting point for technology managers and the latter is the main entity of the platform that presents an aggregated view of the rest of the application tools.

CONCLUSIONS

Creating software from scratch, especially one that will be used by the main universities and TTOs in the country was a challenge but a very rewarding experience. I learned so much about making my team part of the design process which helped to gain the trust of our clients who have never worked with agile development cycles in the past.


Like in every project things didn’t always go as planned but this gave me the chance to make fast changes that allowed us to meet our goals and be proud of the results. What’s more exciting is the fact that HUBS was adopted by many TTOs in the country and is the go-to application to manage their daily work.