For staff

Frequently asked questions

Clear search

What is technology transfer?

Technology transfer is the process of delivering newly developed, innovative technologies out of academic research labs and into industry and practice.

When we talk about technology transfer, we are usually talking about commercialising the technology - turning it into a product or service that either an existing or newly formed company can sell to customers or to other businesses.

What do you do?

Imperial Innovations supports Imperial College London staff will aspects of technology commercialisation.

We can:

  • protect your invention through patents, copyright, design rights or other appropriate forms of intellectual property protection
  • provide intellectual property management services
  • help you access technology development funding
  • assess the commercial viability of your invention
  • suggest IP and commercial strategy
  • conduct extensive market research
  • licence your technology to existing businesses
  • manage ongoing relationships with licencees, collect and distribute royalties
  • form new businesses and help them set up correctly, attract management and secure funding

Technology transfer and commercialisation is a collaborative and iterative process. Without knowing your technology and your interest in and commitment to commercialisation, we can't go into too much detail on what the process will be like. It's always best to approach one of our technology transfer executives for an initial meeting, or get in touch through our contact form to set something up.

What are the benefits of technology transfer?

Technology transfer and commercialisation may provide many positive outcomes. None are guaranteed, but they may be substantial and could include:

  • Seeing your technology 'out there' in the world, having a positive effect on society, in the form of new drugs or medical interventions, improved environmental outcomes, increased efficiency and lower costs for business and through numerous other routes.
  • Having your name on a patent - which is a form of publication and can help demonstrate the impact of your research
  • Financial benefits - you could earn a royalty if your technology is licensed or forms the basis of a spinout company. You may also receive founding shares in a new business
  • Funding your department: Imperial College London's Rewards to Inventors scheme returns some funds to the inventor's department and faculty
  • Gaining commercial experience: when you work with us you may engage with industry partners, or be involved in a start-up company, or take part in licencing negotiations - all valuable commercial experience for future projects
  • Enhancing your reputation: you may become known for developing a new process, treatment, technique etc - enhancing your reputation as a researcher.

What outcomes can I expect from technology commercialisation?

You might become the Chief Scientific Officer of a venture-capital funded start-up. You might collect royalty payments for a licence deal with industry. You might see your name on a new patent. You might become known for developing a new treatment, therapy, process or technique that helps people around the world. You might gain valuable industry contacts to support your future research. You might gain valuable commercial experience. 

All of these things are possible, though it is fair to say that they often require a great deal of time, effort and commitment to achieve. We are here to help you achieve them.

IP Protection: when you talk to us about a new technology, we will do some early work around its commercial potential. This might lead to us patenting or otherwise protecting the technology

Technology Development: once a technology is protected, it may still be too early to licence it to industry or form a company around it. Further development work to establish proof of principle or new data may tehrefore be useful. We can help you find funding - either by supporting applications to translational funding grants or by helping you access proof of concept funding from various sources.

Licensing: many technologies are suitable for licensing to industry. We will market your technology, find and lead discussions with potential partners, negotiate on your behalf and manage the ongoing administration of the licence deal, including collecting and distributing royalties according to the terms of Imperial's Rewards to Inventors scheme.

Company formation: we may form a company based around your technology. We provide extensive support for new businesses through our Venture Support Unit. Some new companies will receive investment from our parent group, Touchstone Innovations. Others will be supported to find funding from alternative sources.

What is a Technology Transfer Office?

A technology transfer office (TTO) is usually part of the university (in the UK, normally a wholly-owned subsidiary company).

It is responsible for protecting (though intellectual property rights) and commercialising research developed at the University. 

TTOs focus on maximising the social and economic impact of university research.

The technology transfer office for Imperial College London is Imperial Innovations. 

What is the technology transfer process?

The basic process of technology transfer begins with researchers informing their technology transfer office of any discoveries they have made that may have commercial potential. This is called invention disclosure - you can let us know about an invention here:

Tell us about your invention

Following that, the process involves assessing commercial potential, protecting the research (through patents or other IP rights), identifying the best route to commercialisation (form a spinout or licence to industry) and then proceeding towards that goal.

You can read more about the exact process at Imperial here:

The Technology Transfer Process at Imperial 

What is the Research Office

The Research Office (or Research Support Services) is a university department that plays a key role in intellectual property matters, as well as negotiating arrangements for academic research funding from industry, charities, research councils and government.

At Imperial the Research Office also plays a role in identifying precisely who owns university intellectual property - an important part of the commercialisation process.

Vist the Imperial Research Office website

General enquiries
Hear updates about new technologies