The Commercialization Process
The UIRF receives technologies from departments all over campus. Due to the very nascent nature of most university inventions, many do not result in licensing. Approximately 20% of the UI technology portfolio is currently licensed, and a smaller fraction of those generate revenue.
1. Initial Screening:
The UIRF evaluates the invention or idea based on the nature of the technology, the potential intellectual property strength, a market analysis for potential products/services, and a brief commercialization analysis. This process is expanded upon in the IP Review Process page.
2. In-Depth Commercial Assessment:
During this stage, the UIRF team investigates possible synergies between the technology and potential business partners. The proper commercialization pathway is also evaluated at this point, assessing whether it is best to pursue licensing to an established company, licensing to an existing startup, or creating a new UI spinout company. See For Ventures for more information on the criteria for forming a new UI spinout company. For licensing to existing companies, the team will explore a number of opportunities within a targeted industry, and assess the strengths of strategic partnerships with existing players in an attempt to identify those companies best suited to license the technology and bring it to market.
Following the identification of suitable partners, marketing begins. Partnership opportunities are discussed with key external contacts for evaluation. Industry representatives will often contact the researcher, particularly at conferences, or after publications. They may be crucial contacts that serve as market entry points. Once engaged, potential partners or the UIRF may request confidentiality, material transfer, or option agreements be put into place so that the technology can be more fully evaluated prior to licensing. The UIRF will negotiate and execute these agreements.
If a company is interested in a licensing a technology, the UIRF will negotiate the terms of the license. A number of key terms, such as field of use, diligence criteria, up-front fees, maintenance fees, royalty fees and types, equity, and termination provisions are discussed. Researchers are not involved in this negotiation, but may be consulted regarding aspects of the license agreement. Once a technology has been licensed, the UIRF maintains an ongoing relationship with the licensee. This relationship helps to keep open avenues for further technologies as well as to ensure that the terms of the licensing agreement are upheld.