PoultryTech Newsletter, Volume 29, Issue 1, Spring, 2017
Manager's Corner

Bridging the “Technology Valley of Death”

The performance of applied research is a significant component of the Agricultural Technology Research Program (ATRP) mission, which also includes education, outreach, and technical assistance. This research can involve developing new technologies, materials, processes, systems, or methods that seek to push the boundaries of the current state-of-the-art and provide benefits to the poultry and agricultural industries.


The transition of this research out of the university can take on many forms, including dissemination through journal publications, articles, and contributions to the general body of knowledge in a particular field. Some of the ATRP research activities explore the value of various emerging technologies and processes to the poultry and agriculture sectors, allowing industry to quickly gauge the potential for adoption into their own solutions and technology portfolios. Applied research efforts often take a more direct route to industrial application through licensing agreements with companies. The range of options for constructing these technology transfer agreements is quite broad and can range from simple licenses of fundamental underlying scientific principles to joint partnership agreements for the development of full-scale commercial systems.


However, a significant challenge becomes finding the tipping point when a technology transitions from a research effort into a commercial development. Companies licensing technology often must invest significant resources into generating the commercial designs and hardening the technologies for sustained industrial use. Unfortunately, the larger and more difficult the research challenges, the greater the investments required by the commercial partners. In addition, research developments are often disruptive and require a true shift in existing processes, which further increases the risks of commercial adoption. All of this combines to make technology transfer one of the more challenging aspects of the overall research process.


Several different models have been suggested for bridging what has become known as the “technology valley of death” between research and commercial adoption. These include the formation of industry coalitions for supporting technology transfer efforts to reduce overall risk and encourage equipment companies to take longer bets on emerging technologies. Another model is the formation of venture-funding entities to support start-up efforts that drive commercialization of novel technologies. Regardless of the approach, there is a clear need for a long-term strategic framework that fosters the viability of technology transfer from the lab into the marketplace.


As our vision states, ATRP is fully committed to driving transformational innovation in advanced technologies for poultry, agribusiness, and food processing. To that end, we are always seeking opportunities to partner in transitioning technology into the marketplace in a manner that provides the highest likelihood for overall effectiveness and success. If you would like to discuss partnering with us or have suggestions for how we can bridge the “technology valley of death” together, please email me at doug.britton@gtri.gatech.edu. I look forward to hearing from you.



Doug Britton, Ph.D., ATRP Program Manager

Doug Britton, Ph.D.
ATRP Program Manager