“Eureka! My research just resulted in a unique new innovation!”

This is so cool, I can’t wait to tell …”   Hold on! Slow Down!!!

Before you let the cat out of the bag, you should consider taking steps to ensure that you are not inadvertently jeopardizing any intellectual property rights in your new innovation. You can share your excitement with your colleagues at work; however, before you announce it to the world, our best advice is that you submit an invention disclosure to your employer’s Intellectual Property Office for consideration. If you’re self-employed, you may wish to work with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law.


At the University of Pittsburgh, the Innovation Institute serves as the hub for intellectual property protection and technology commercialization activities at the University. Faculty, staff, and students can submit their innovations for commercialization consideration by filing an invention disclosure through the Innovation Institute’s website, and receive assistance from a team of Licensing Managers. While the invention disclosure itself offers no intellectual property protection for your innovation, the submission allows the Innovation Institute to evaluate the technology and act quickly to potentially file for patent protection prior to your submission of a paper or article for publication; or to secure confidential disclosure agreements (CDA) with potential industry partners prior to any discussions regarding your innovation to avoid undue public disclosures of information. In general, to preserve intellectual property rights any discussion you have regarding your innovation with someone outside your place of employment should be done under the purview of a properly prepared and executed CDA. At the University of Pittsburgh, the Licensing Managers at the Innovation Institute can assist in the preparation of a CDA if you are going to have business discussions with an outside party.

Most innovators, having spent a considerable portion of their life’s work to reach the point of a new innovation, also want to see their innovations benefit society. Making new technologies available to the masses is sometimes achieved through commercializing the technology as a product and is typically a new and unchartered path for an innovator. Help is needed to further develop this innovation so that it can be used in the marketplace. The Innovation Institute has a number of programs designed to assist inventors, within the university, as well as the region, to navigate the entrepreneurial pathway from the early discovery stages to delivering a product to the marketplace.

Faculty and students at Pitt are encouraged to learn more about the possibility of commercializing their inventions and ideas and to participate in one of the many Innovation Institute programs. The Pitt Venture’s 1st Gear Program is ideal for inventors looking to see their invention go to market. Some of the programs offer funding to support commercialization and those that are part of the I-Corps site Innovation Program qualify the inventor for legacy NSF funding. The Innovation Institute offers expert guidance and can provide seasoned entrepreneurs to mentor innovators and their teams through the process. Using agile customer discovery and business model development tools, the Innovation Institute will work side by side with you as you move you technology towards commercialization.

So file your disclosure and sign up for our upcoming webinar where we will further discuss the details of our 1st Gear program and NSF funding available to help with commercialization. Register now for webinar!