“Technology Commercialization” describes the process of formally transforming your research into practical applications with commercial potential, seeking patent protection for those innovations, and then transferring them to industry via license agreements and sometimes new start-up companies. The process also includes extensive market research, competitive analysis, value proposition development, business plan development and other commercial considerations along the way.
An invention disclosure simply allows you to share enough detailed information about your innovation with the Innovation Institute to allow us and an independent committee of Pitt administrators and faculty peers comprising a Technology Transfer Committee (TTC), to evaluate the innovation’s commercial potential. It also is the first step in the process of seeking intellectual property protection for your innovation.
The Technology Transfer Committee meets monthly to determine the commercial merits of the submitted Invention Disclosures and decide in which innovations the University should invest its limited time, money and other resources. The committee historically approves moving forward towards commercialization on approximately 50 percent of all those innovations submitted to the Innovation Institute in given year.
The Innovation Institute staff and the TTC will assess whether your idea holds to the legal definition of invention, including whether it is new, useful and non-obvious. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office won’t consider your idea for patenting if it doesn’t meet that standard. And since most commercial partners won’t consider licensing your innovation without some kind of exclusive rights that come with patent or copyright protection, the University will pursue commercialization only when it can protect that exclusivity – and defend it when necessary in court.
Finding a potential licensee for your innovation and getting it to market presents new challenges that often run contrary to the academic research mindset. This is where the Innovation Institute – in active partnership with you – will step in and facilitate the effort.
In short, the Innovation Institute will provide: business planning and strategy; market research; targeted innovation marketing; start-up development; industry/investor relationship development; and financial resources to facilitate proof-of-concept and prototype development, data collection and other early-stage business development assistance. Past experience in technology commercialization strongly suggests, though, that a large majority of licensing successes begin with the active participation of the innovators together with their industry contacts.
The ultimate goal of the University’s technology commercialization endeavor, of course, is to find an industry partner or start-up company willing to license your innovations and take them to market. Keep in mind that the University does not sell its intellectual property. Rather, it negotiates a licensing agreement that gives the industry partner, or licensee, the right to use and/or sell your innovation in the marketplace.
The Innovation Institute, supported by the University’s Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Research, will work closely with you not only to identify potential licensees, but also to negotiate all financial, business and legal terms on your behalf.