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These factors can make or break your technology transfer

technology transfer by quality by design

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A technology transfer can take place between buildings on the same production site, between different production plants from the same company or even between different companies. It can involve the transfer of various aspects, such as information, expertise, processes and assets. Thorough understanding between the sending and receiving units is important to guarantee optimal and efficient transfers. However, companies are still struggling with technology transfers, often because there’s no framework or standardised approach in place. In this blogpost we list the main reasons for technology transfer delay, and provide you with success factors to ensure successful tech transfers

Want to know more about technology transfers? We will go into more detail in our next blogposts. Stay tuned

Management and product related delay

One of the challenges regarding technology transfers is to limit potential delay of the transfer as much as possible. Any delay might result in extra costs and effort or, in the case of new products, competitors beating you to the punch. Earlier QbD research shows that the reasons for delay of tech transfers can be divided into two main categories: management and product related delay

Management related delay mainly involves the topics project management and communication and – to a lesser degree – maturity. When we look at project management, we see that unsatisfactory project management is the main reason for management related delay, followed by unrealistic timings and risks that were not calculated in the project plan. Subjects that were not incorporated in the initial project scope, for example lab analysis transfers, can also cause management related delay. Because the high risk of delay caused by inaccurate project management, the role of the project manager is crucial in tech transfers.

This also applies to his or her communication skills. Usually there are a lot of parties involved in tech transfers. Optimal communication is crucial to prevent faulty communication between the sending and receiving side or issues caused by a non-cooperative sending unit – also two important factors for management related delay. Last but not least, immaturity of one of the parties can cause delay, so it’s important to have a dedicated experienced team available. 

Product related delay has to do with the product that’s involved in the tech transfer project, for example a new medicine that will be launched onto the market or a product that will be produced in another production facility. Our research shows that the most important reason for product related delay is when the raw materials for a product are not identical, for example when there is a different amount of impurities in raw materials, influencing and impacting the final product. In addition, problems with validation batches or incorrect use of equipment by the receiving unit can lead to product related delay. 

What are the success factors for a tech transfer? 

Talking about the success of tech transfers, there are a couple of important factors that influence success. 

1. Maturity and communication of the teams

A good team is crucial for a successful technology transfer. The definition of a mature team is roughly the same for all companies under scrutiny: it is a team of people who work in complementary fashion. In addition, the team has to be mature enough to guarantee optimal communication and cooperation.

2. Complexity of the transfer

The two most important parameters for complexity are whether the market is a new or existing market for the company, and whether it’s a new or existing product. In general, the technology transfer for a new type of product is more complex than technology transfers for a new market. New markets are especially challenging for smaller companies. Read more about the drivers of complexity in tech transfers in our next blogpost.

3. A skilled project manager

Management related delay often has to do with the communication skills of the project manager. Around 75 percent of the project managers involved in tech transfers has a technical background. However, good communication skills and other soft skills are just as important as a technical background. Think about financial insights, organisational talent, decision-making power and drive.

4. The right budget and timing

What’s the right budget and timing for the specific transfer and how big should the team be? These are decisions that are made at the very beginning of the project (or even before). Every company applies different standards when it comes to starting and end points of projects, but it is important to decide on budget, timing and size of the team before the kick-off meeting.

In our next three blogposts, we will zoom in on various aspects of technology transfers, including the drivers of complexity, the role of the project manager and team members and the most important trends in tech transfers. Are you facing a situation in which technology transfers is key? Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss how we can help!  

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