Diana Gonzalez Girones: supporting STEM researchers

Diana Gonzalez Girones is a pharmacist with a PhD in biomedicine. Diana has always been interested in applied medicine and improving patient health and care. In her role as Senior Technology Transfer & Innovation Manager at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), Diana currently works with the Intellectual Property that is generated at the institute.

In this role Diana takes the technologies developed at IBEC and supports their development to Technology Readiness Level 3-4. Thereafter, Diana may look for companies to co-develop and licence the technology. On the other hand, she also helps register the interest of companies in a product or service and then tries to find a match within IBEC to start a collaboration between the company and researchers at the organisation. 

Each project has different needs 

Diana emphasises that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and there are different pathways that the valorisation process can follow, and in order to determine the appropriate valorisation pathway, each case needs to be considered individually. Researchers at IBEC most often go to the technology transfer office for assistance with the valorisation activities once they have already drafted a research paper but have not yet published it. At this stage, the Technology Transfer Officer will begin to do market research and an intellectual property search. This helps determine the correct valorisation pathway for their particular situation. 

Barriers to valorisation 

There are some barriers to valorisation facing STEM researchers, that Diana identifies. The Biotechnology and Bioengineering fields are already very competitive and there is often a great deal of work needed from patent attorneys. This makes the process more costly. There is also a large amount of data that potential buyers (such as companies) require from researchers with regards to the project, which prolongs the process. It takes time and money for the provision of this data, which further hinders the valorisation process. 

What do researchers lack? 

Overall, Diana believes researchers lack the knowledge of the steps that need to be taken in product development, and before attempting to valorise their work, researchers should understand what their target audience needs or wants. Researchers need to be able to quantify whether their research outputs are disruptive or a substantial improvement than what is currently available. Furthermore, researchers should have training in valorisation topics such as: knowledge and technology transfer, entrepreneurship, intellectual property and lean management. 

Supporting researchers 

Diana points out that to support STEM researchers to valorise their work, it should be ensured that there is a variety of expertise amongst technology transfer officers to be able to cover all topics related to valorisation. There should also be increased cross-communication between public institutes, including universities and companies. This is important because companies and researchers require a better understanding of one another’s methods of working, especially as companies are the ones to bring the outcomes of research to the market/public. Researchers would also benefit from making use of available training programmes that can help them obtain valuable knowledge and skills with regards to business and entrepreneurship. 

In closing, Diana believes that supporting researchers in their valorisation journeys is crucial, because technology, knowledge and research is there to improve the lives of people – both patients and people in good health. 

Authored by Catherine Hayward

Featured image by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels.

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