There are a number of issues to examine when considering the best way to commercialise Intellectual Property. These include; the status of the technology (closeness to market) and the strength of any IP protection, the market(s) for the technology, the wishes of the researcher and the resources of the University. Once a completed Invention Disclosure Form (DOC-80kb) has been received, the TTO will undertake a number of due diligence steps to ascertain the suitability of the technology for commercial exploitation. During this time, the researcher may be asked to assign their IP to the University and to agree the contribution of each inventor to the technology opportunity.
A member of the Intellectual Property Management will present the opportunity to TTAG (the University of Reading's internal Technology Transfer Advisory Group). If TTAG decides to proceed with the opportunity then steps may be undertaken to protect the IP prior to commercialisation. The inventor and the Intellectual Property Management member, with the approval of TTAG, will then proceed to formulate a plan for commercialisation. The two common routes for the commercialisation of University-owned IP are licensing or creating a spin-out company.
Licence v spin-out?
Licensing may be the more appropriate route to commercialisation for a particular piece of technology, if the technology is close to market, if there is an existing company with the desire and resources to bring the product to market, or if the University does not have the resources to develop the technology further. For example new drug candidates which require large investments, regulatory requirements and clinical trials but which also will fit into a pharmaceutical company's drug pipeline. Another example would be software which has been developed to complement existing systems.
A spin-out company may be a more appropriate route to commercialisation if the technology requires further development that is capable of being done by the researcher and if the technology can potentially become many products (a platform technology) or has a broad application.
There are two further factors to consider when deciding the most appropriate route – what are the wishes, skills and resources of the inventor involved and what level of investment is required to take the technology forward.