This summer I had the pleasure to work with several university research parks and innovation hubs looking to deploy the So what? who cares? why you? methodology on campus with their community of researchers, faculty, post-docs, students and staff. A common theme to our conversations is the topic of engaging campus innovators – specifically how to introduce a new approach that may be quite different from the current cultural norms. I like to start these discussions by understanding both the climate and the culture for commercialization – two important drivers of change in any organization.

University campuses are not unique in their behaviour. People are creatures of habit and most don’t naturally adopt something new. Change in any organization takes planning and daily execution. I’ve often said you win innovators over “one at a time”, suggesting that you identify the early adopters in your organization and win them over. A VP of Innovation at a big ten university once told me, “commercialization is a contact sport”, and I couldn’t agree more. You need to get onto campus with your innovators, Deans, and Faculty Department Chairs to start to influence change.

There are many dimensions to this conversation and I’ve captured some of mine in this checklist available to download. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas around this topic.