For staff

Inventor's Guide

The commercialisation process is different for every inventor.

Talking to one of our technology transfer executives is the best way to understand how things might progress in your case.

However, reading through the guide below will provide a high-level overview of our process, what we do to support the commercialisation of new technologies, and what you might expect at different stages. 

Some sections of the guide link to more detailed pages that will provide further information on the technology transfer process should you require it.

Before you publish

It is important that you talk to us about your idea or discovery before it is publicly disclosed, whether through publication or presentation. This ensures we can protect it. Protecting the intellectual property behind an idea or discovery is crucial to commercialisation as it provides a substantial competitive advantage.

We understand the competitive nature of research, having worked with Imperial for over 25 years. We will never delay your publication without explicit consent. A good time to contact us is as the draft publication is written, but prior to any external presentation of the concept. If in doubt, please contact a member of our team at the earliest opportunity. It is better for us to become involved at the earliest stages, rather than late in the research process, as this gives us more time to make a thorough assessment of the technology.

Get in touch

Background Research

We’ll begin some background research into your work at this point. We will conduct prior art searches to see if there is similar intellectual property that has already been protected. These searches are a key step in formulating an IP protection strategy.

Commercial considerations

Our team will undertake market research that will help us understand the commercial potential for your invention. You will likely have valuable input into this step and our execs will talk to you in detail.

When we’ve reviewed your invention and assessed its commercial potential, we’ll come to a decision with you about taking it forward.

Intellectual property protection

IP protection is a key step for commercialisation. We spend around £1.5 million a year on protecting IP developed at Imperial College London. There are various routes to IP protection and we have experience with all of them.

IP protection can take a long time and will require your input. A more thorough explanation of the different sorts of IP protection and how they work is linked below.

Intellectual property overview

Spinout or licence

There are two main ways to take a technology to market. Either form a new company around it (spinout), or find an existing company in need of it (licensing). Most technologies are suitable for licensing – of the 65 – 70 technologies we patent each year, only around 10% are appropriate for spinout formation.

Our technology execs will discuss the best route forward with you, but the guide linked below with give you some guidance on how we make our decisions.



If a technology is more appropriate for licensing we will directly market it to companies in appropriate industries. Our technology executives will take responsibility for finding and negotiating with licensing partners.



Some technologies are suitable for forming a spinout company. Our Venture Support team will work very closely with you to make sure your company is set up correctly right from the start.

Venture Support Unit

Our spinouts