I would like to wish everyone a delayed Happy New (Fiscal) Year! It is a bit later than usual in the month for my column because we have switched over to making the FLC Digest biweekly instead of weekly - based on feedback from you, our readers. The response has been very positive so far, with about double the open rate. This is one of the many things we measure at FLC to make sure we are delivering value to the FLC community, and we appreciate your feedback!
Before I highlight a few other things, I would like to first recognize our new Executive Board (EB) members! While elections take place at the National Meeting, the EB steps into office when the new fiscal year starts on October 1. We welcome our new Chair, Whitney Hastings from the National Cancer Institute, and Vice Chair, David Kistin from Sandia National Laboratories. We also have Jeffrey DiTullio from the Army Corp of Engineers moving to Educate Committee Chair. Andrew Myers from the Kansas City National Security Campus has moved into the Mid-Continent Regional Coordinator position, and Valerie Larkin from the Navy and Stefan Susta from the Veterans Administration are our new Members-at-Large. The FLC depends on volunteers from the federal labs to serve on the Executive Board to lead our organization, as well as many other opportunities on our committees to help shape our programs. Please consider volunteering!
The change of fiscal year is always a good time to look back and assess how things are going. Event registration is one of the key metrics we use to measure members’ interest in FLC programming. Since 2020, registration has been steadily climbing. For several years in a row, the EB has set a target of 30% growth – and we met or exceeded that target in 2021 and 2022. I am happy to share that 2023 was a pretty special year with over 60% growth! A few records were broken along the way, including the record for attendance at an in-person National Meeting last spring in Cleveland, Ohio.
Another area of tremendous growth has been the number registered users for our Learning Center. Total registered users nearly tripled, and the library of available courses has greatly expanded. We are continuing to add new high-quality, on-demand learning content that complements the in-person training we provide tech transfer professionals, from fundamentals for entry –level practitioners to continued learning for seasoned veterans. We have been working on new professional courses that are fully interactive and based on adult learning principles. We also offer recordings from the National Meeting training day and regular sessions, as well as recordings from our now monthly professional development webinar series. On top of all of this, we have updated our key reference documents, including the Desk Reference that was widely distributed at the National Meeting and an updated Green Book that is now available online and will soon be available in hard copies.
The Facilitate program has also soared. With a full slate of Member Connect webinars, tech transfer partnering opportunities and Lab Showcases, these programs now attract more than half of our total attendance, even as we hit new highs on the educational offerings. The Facilitate programs show a huge jump in the number of external companies attending our events to work with member labs. On top of registration numbers at our events, we have a newly invigorated outreach program through our national and regional partners’ events and other key technology-specific conferences where we promote federal labs.
While we had a great 2023, we are looking forward to continuing to expand and advance our support for the federal tech transfer community in 2024!