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The Technology Transfer Process

The process of commercialising technology - that is, developing it in a laboratory, protecting it and finding a route to market - is complex and variable. Set out below is a guideline, showing what you might expect and the broad shape of the process. 

  1. Invention

    Discoveries and inventions often arise from research activities, and some of these will have commercial potential.

    You might have invented something during your research, like a new process, machine, composition of matter or a new and useful way of doing or making something that exists already.

    Or you might just have an idea you want to pursue. You can have an informal chat with a member of our team at any stage, and we will advise and support you whatever you decide to do.

  2. Invention disclosure

    Invention Disclosure is the formal process of informing us about your invention.

    Usually you should talk to us before you begin this formal process, for a discussion about your work. Often the invention disclosure process becomes collaborative.

    You will need to disclose information about what your invention is, who worked on it and who funded it, as well as early thoughts about its potential commercial uses.

  3. Technology Assessment

    They will review the invention and evaluate its commercial potential based on a range of factors including: Patent searches for prior art, Market analysis, Existing competitive technologies, Customer/consultant feedback, Contributions from you and your collaborators (such as specific industry knowledge). The assessment will guide the approach to licensing or spinout formation that we will take in future.
  4. Intellectual Property Protection

    Intellectual Property (IP) protection is often an essential step in technology commercialisation.

    We will pursue appropriate IP rights for your technology at no cost to you or your department - though you will need to be involved in the process.

    For some technologies, IP protection is not necessary or possible. We will explain your options in such cases.

  5. Company formation or licensing opportunity?

    The nature of your technology and the market opportunity will help inform a decision on whether it is best to licence or spinout.

    If forming a spinout is the best route, you will work with the Venture Support Unit to develop the opportunity.

    If licensing is the best route, you will work with your licensing executive to identify and approach potential partners.

  6. Licensing your technology

    Licensing your technology is often the best path to commercial adoption.

    An existing company which needs a solution that your technology provides is a motivated partner that can get your invention out into the world.

    Your dedicated licensing executive will help you identify potential customers, market your technology and negotiate a deal.

    Our Patent and Licence Management (PALM) team will manage the receipt and distribution of royalty and milestone payments.

  7. Forming a spinout company

    Certain technologies are suitable as the basis for new technology companies.

    If a spinout is the best route forward for your technology, you may choose to develop the idea yourself, using your own networks. Or you may choose to work closely with Imperial Innovation and take advantage of a wide-ranging support package.

Contact us about your idea